Sosnowski calls for different funding focus for state schools
Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) sent a strongly worded letter to his colleagues in the Illinois House on Monday, urging them to work together to implement an equitable funding system for schools.
Sosnowski argued that evidence-based education funding did not produce the hoped-for results in other states that have implemented it. The results on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests have shown little improvement; student achievement remained nearly flat.
Senate Bill 1 passed the House and Senate nearly two months ago, but the Senate sat on it until Monday, when it was sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner. As promised, Rauner slashed a $250 million block grant intended for the Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) pension fund in an amendatory veto. He also changed the funding formula, which weighted CPS pension funding when distributing funds to all schools.
“As written, Senate Bill 1 places the burden of the Chicago Public Schools’ broken teacher pension system on our rural and suburban school districts,” Rauner said. “CPS’ pension crisis should be resolved in a separate forum that also addresses statewide pension reform.”
While the Legislature has 15 days to override the veto, school districts are left waiting for funding. Some schools are scheduled to start this week. If the Legislature does not act or cannot override the veto, SB1 would die and a new school funding plan would have to be introduced, putting districts at risk of starting late or closing in a few weeks due to lack of funds.
Sosnowski urged his colleagues to find a different solution for school funding. He pushed lawmakers to work together to develop a simpler, easy-to-understand funding formula that would provide a per-child allowance for districts, with additional funding for special education and a pool of funds set aside to assist poor districts in an equitable manner.
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