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Changes Made to Education Funding Bill

Updated: Wednesday, May 21 2014, 10:28 PM CDT
ILLINOIS -- A bill to revamp the state's education funding formula is branching out into other areas of education--and not everyone is pleased.

In addition to directing more state money to poorer districts, the bill would now allow schools to opt out of teaching certain subjects, like black history and driver's ed.

A Senate committee approved attaching that amendment to an education funding bill over the protests of some, including the committee's vice-chairman. Sen. Kimberly Lightford said she believes the amendment was a move to garner Republican votes--a move that didn't work.

"For the Republicans to come back with an amendment in order to get on board with the legislation, that was inappropriate," Lightford said. "I think it was out of order. And then they still said they couldn't support Senate Bill 16 as a whole, so I think it was a waste of our time in committee."

The original funding bill, proposed by Sen. Andy Manar, does away with much of the grant funding in the current system, and distributes most money based on need.

A board of education analysis of the bill's funding mechanism shows that downstate districts won out under the new system, while suburban districts lost. Manar says he's willing to compromise to get his bill on the floor.

"What I'm trying to do is trying to put something forward that is measured, that is a small step in the right direction," Manar said. "As to whether or not it belongs in an equity bill, I think that's going to be discussed quite handily on the Senate floor when we debate the bill."

Manar's bill could face further changes before it hits the floor--changes that would affect the funding formula itself. Changes Made to Education Funding Bill

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