Illinois school funding up in the air after budget crisis

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EAST MOLINE, Ill. – A budget may be in place, but Illinois schools are still not being funded.

Photo courtesy: MGN

“A lot of people think the state has a budget so everything's fine,” said East Moline Superintendent Kristen Humphries. “But that’s not the case because in the budget it references there has to be an evidence-based funding formula to pay school districts and right now there is no formula.”

That’s why he organized a town hall at Glenview Middle School Thursday night, July 13. The Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1 on May 31. It implements an evidence-based funding formula, but Governor Bruce Rauner has not signed it into law.

If signed into law, $350 million new dollars would be distributed across districts.

“It would be approximately $1.2 million more per year to the East Moline school district over what we were promised last year,” Humphries said.

Each school would continue to receive the same money from the state they were promised for FY2017. The additional funds will be distributed based on 27 evidence-based best practices shown to enhance student achievement. Taken into account is enrollment, the number of low-income students and the number of second langue learning students.

“East Moline is one of the most underfunded school districts in the state of Illinois under SB1 East Moline gets approximately $434 more per child,” Humphries said.

Governor Rauner has called this bill a bailout for Chicago public schools.

But according to data provided by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability CPS will get fewer dollars than other areas with high levels of low-income students. That's because the formula also takes into account how much money local property taxes can contribute.

Due to higher property wealth within CPS the district will be expected to contribute more of its own money instead of getting it from the state.

“This will affect the entire state of Illinois and we can't continue to put kids in the crosshairs of adult issues,” Humphries said.

Parents who learned more about the formula Thursday night say they are in support of the measure.

“Evidence-based always speaks for itself, and he talked about evidence-based and usually you go with what works,” said East Moline parent Monica Burney.

Humphries says he's hopeful the SB1 will become law.

“I’m always going to be cautiously optimistic, and I’m hoping the governor and or the general assembly will have come together if they need to override.”

Based on the senate's last vote of this bill they would be able to override the governor's veto. But the house would need to find more votes to do so. Local State Rep. Mike Halpin voted yes to the bill. State Rep. Tony McCombie did not.