SPRINGFIELD — A state senator who led a task force studying Illinois’ formula for financing schools said he would vote for a plan that brings equity to education even if it means local schools he represents get less money.
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, told reporters on Monday that such sacrifices might need to be made in the name of repairing a broken system.
“The way we fund public education in Illinois is curently very complex, but one piece of it is very simple: It isn’t working” said Manar, who represents a mix of urban and rural schools stretching from Decatur to Carlinville.
After six months of hearings, a bipartisan Senate panel Friday issued a report calling for a more streamlined school funding formula based on need.
The group found that the majority of state aid flowing to school districts is not based on whether a district can afford to pay for it out of local property tax dollars.
“The disparity between school districts that have resources and those that don’t is only getting worse, meaning too many children are being denied an equal opportunity for a quality public education,” Manar said.
But, revamping the formula could mean some districts will get fewer state dollars, triggering turf battles among lawmakers and potentially dooming the proposal.
For example, state aid for Chicago schools is handled differently than funding for downstate schools. If the state’s largest city is in line to see a drop in state aid, members of the House and Senate could ignore Manar’s call for change.
In a briefing at the Capitol Monday, Manar said he wants to get legislation ready for a vote in the Senate, but acknowledged it could be tough to change the current system.
“It’s very hard to do,” he said.
Others on the committee included state Sens. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, and Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who serves as Gov. Pat Quinn’s point person on education, said the recommendations floated by the committee could be a milestone in fixing Illinois’ school funding problems.
“By creating a single funding formula, increasing transparency about how school funds are being spent, and prioritizing resources, we can take important steps toward a sustainable and equitable education system,” Simon said in a statement Monday.