school funding formula

When it comes to funding public schools, Gov. Bruce Rauner has wavered a bit.

A few months ago, he vetoed a major funding reform bill, saying it sent too much money to Chicago Public Schools. Later, he signed a compromise measure that gave the Chicago schools even more.

Now he has another bill on his desk.

Carter Staley/NPR Illinois

Illinois’s new school funding plan — approved in August and hailed as a historic change — relies on the legislature to give every school the same state aid it got last year, plus push another $350 million through a new formula. That $350 million is crucial because it’s the part designed to address the inequity that has plagued Illinois schools for decades.

State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, wants to make sure lawmakers don't skip that step. She filed a measure Monday tying it to a tax break for those who provide private school scholarships.

One promise heard repeatedly during debate over the state's new school funding plan was that no schools would get less funding than before. But lawmakers siphoned $300 million from a fund that schools and local governments rely upon.

It was part of a separate action implementing the state budget. Vic Zimmerman is superintendent of Monticello schools. He says that fund represents 40% of his budget. 

"We certainly now have huge red numbers because of the divergence to CPPRT and the estimate for this year compared to last year," Zimmerman said.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner put his signature today on a bill that redefines how Illinois public schools are funded. But it also will send overdue money to schools starting up the academic year.

House Democrats called a vote Wednesday on legislation that incorporates the changes that Gov. Bruce Rauner wants in a new formula for financing public schools. Democrats said they wanted to gauge support for Rauner's ideas.

The governor issued an amendatory veto to a school-funding model he says unfairly favors Chicago schools and hinders state funding flexibility.

State Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, says he is optimistic that lawmakers can reach bipartisan agreement.

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