WUIS is asking the candidates for Springfield mayor to talk about education issues facing the community. Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says he's concerned that most new single family homes in the area are in suburban school districts. He says an increase in funding for District 186 is probably needed, but says the school board needs to build credibility first.
The Illinois Legislature adjourned its spring session having passed a new state budget and other key measures, but leaving some business undone. Here's a look at what passed and what didn't: BILLS SENT TO GOV. PAT QUINN: Budget: A roughly $35.7 billion budget for 2015 keeps funding flat for schools and most state agencies. Majority Democrats acknowledged the budget is ``incomplete'' because it postpones tough votes about whether to slash spending or find new revenue until after November's election.
The Illinois Senate has passed a plan to overhaul the way schools are funded. But the proposal has a long way to go before becoming law.
After months of negotiations and with just four days left on the General Assembly's spring calendar, the measure was deemed "ready for primetime." The plan would direct state funding to more impoverished schools and divert funding from schools in wealthier areas.
Supporters of the plan, like Sen. Mike Noland (D-Elgin) say this would help remedy inequity in school funding.
While the state's budget for next year is still in flux, Republicans in the Illinois Senate say they have a new plan that would fully fund public schools. They say it's something that would help schools now, unlike a competing Democratic proposal that's still building support.
Illinois has been shortchanging schools for several years. Instead of funding them at the full amount required by law, they've been cutting — it's at 89 percent this year. That's because mandatory spending on things like health care and pensions has been choking out other priorities.
The way schools are funded in Illinois has been getting a lot of attention lately. The WUIS Education Desk presents a discussion entitled "Transforming Our Schools: A Panel On Education Funding" held recently in Decatur. The panel includes State Senator Andy Manar, Warrensburg-Latham Superintendent Kristen Kendrick, Decatur Public Schools Director of Business Affairs Todd Covault, Center for Tax & Budget Accountability Director Ralph Martire and moderators Brian Byers of WSOY & Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS. The event was coordinated with the Education Coalition of Macon County.
Getting attention is a plan to change school funding that would shift a larger share of the state funding to poorer school districts. And scrutiny of Governor Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative continues.
Downstate schools would be the primary winners under a proposed school funding overhaul before the General Assembly. A report from Illinois' board of education could lead to a regional divide when it comes up for a vote.
Illinois' public school system relies heavily on property taxes, often meaning the quality of a student's education will depend on his or her zip code.
But a proposal in the General Assembly would completely change the state's complicated funding formula.
A group of Democratic lawmakers Wednesday introduced a long-awaited piece of legislation that would dramatically change the way schools are funded in Illinois for the first time since 1997. The sponsors call the measure the most comprehensive way to ensure equity across the state but say there's still work to do in gaining broad support on the regionally divisive issue.
Many people are aware that the Illinois Lottery helps fund schools. But just how much do the proceeds actually help? Well, that's what we aimed to find out:
Most of the money for the state's public schools K-12 come from local sources, like property taxes. The state contributes a large portion as well, and the lottery profits are part of that, but just how much? To find that out, our first stop is the Hometown Pantry at the intersection of Edwards and MacArthur in Springfield.
Illinois schools have seen state funding cut again and again in recent years. A Democratic lawmaker wants to change how that money is distributed. But it remains to be whether they can get more money in the system.
State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) says inequality is basically guaranteed by Illinois' complicated education funding laws. That's because it's based on property taxes, so schools in impoverished areas can struggle to get by.
Illinois ranks last in the nation when it comes to how much money the state kicks in for public education. This has to do with the complicated formula that determines school funding. But it also has to do with the amount districts are being prorated.
This year, Illinois is only paying 89 percent of the money it's supposed to send to schools. Currently those cuts are applied across the board, hitting wealthy and poor districts alike.
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon says she wants to make sure schools districts with more impoverished students aren't left behind.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has again suspended state funding to the United Neighborhood Organization, the state's biggest charter-school operator. Quinn spokeswoman Sandra M. Jones told the Chicago Sun-Times the final $15 million of a $98 million state school-construction grant the Illinois Legislature promised UNO in 2009 is being withheld. Quinn previously suspended funding for UNO in April, after reports the organization gave $8.5 million of business to companies owned by the brothers of then UNO executive Miquel d'Escoto.
School administrators in Illinois are being warned to prepare for even less state funding for the next fiscal year. The Springfield Bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/16g1Hjd ) the Illinois State Board of Education is telling school districts to prepare to receive about 85 percent of the normal general state aid payments. This year, the qualifying districts are getting 89 percent of the money.