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Voice of the Reader: Investing more

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To the Editor:

Last year, Illinois fixed our broken school funding system. As a teacher, I want to thank State Rep. Terri Bryant and State Sen. Paul Schimpf, whose votes for the new model brought $6.9 million in badly needed funds to schools across southwest Illinois. Under our new evidence-based model, dollars have been flowing to schools across the state more equitably, instead of favoring the wealthiest districts. Small town schools have been able to introduce new technology, buy new books, and hire more teachers to ease the burden on overcrowded classrooms.

While the adoption of this model is a huge step in the right direction, most school districts in Southern Illinois are still underfunded, because the new formula didn’t increase funding for schools — it only changed the way that money was distributed. That’s why we need an additional $400 million for K-12 education in Illinois’ state budget.

According to the Illinois State Board of Education’s school funding data, only one school district in Southwest Illinois has the funding it needs to provide the education our kids deserve. The rest of our schools receive, on average, just 65 percent of what they need. With further investment, that gap will start to close and our students will be able to compete with those in wealthier districts, like the Chicago suburbs.

Investing in our school funding formula will improve our kids’ education and offer a bright future for students in Southern Illinois. I urge our legislators to support an investment of $400 million in K-12 education in the FY19 state budget.

Bill Curtin

Carbondale

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