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Senate Debating Education Funding Bill

Updated: Friday, May 30 2014, 03:53 PM CDT
ILLINOIS -- A plan to completely revamp the state's education funding formula is being debated in the Senate. Debate on the bill has been colorful and passionate, with several senators referring to their children.

The proposed funding formula, sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat, would radically revamp the state's funding formula to distribute the majority of state funding based on a district's need. The current funding formula, he says, is based too much on grants, and is inequitable.

"Because we're still pumping money out the same way we were 17 years ago," Sen. Andy Manar (D - Staunton) said. "And that actually doesn't even match the whole purpose of state aid in the first place. It doesn't make it better."

His plan is opposed by suburban Republicans, who are concerned about how much their districts would lose based on this new formula.

Manar added several amendments to his bill. They include giving more weight to at-risk students, capping the amount of money a district could lose per student, and funding early childhood programs, special education, and transportation.

One amendment that got left off the list was a proposal to allow schools to opt out of dozens of mandates, from teaching drivers ed to black history. Some senators thought that belonged in a separate bill.

Republicans have also put forward their own alternative funding plan to fund every student at the so-called foundation level. Manar said it appeared sponsors didn't put much thought into their plan. Senate Debating Education Funding Bill

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