Manar's School Funding Change Moving Forward

Apr 11, 2014

Credit Amanda Vinicky

  A proposal to overhaul the way Illinois schools get state funding is advancing in the state Senate. But Republicans are worried that under a new formula, Chicago schools will get an even bigger share of the money than they do now.

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) has made it his mission to change the way schools are funded in Illinois. The freshman senator says it's long overdue; there's been no change in 17 years.

He's pushing a plan that'd weight poverty, so schools with more poor students get more state money, and wealthier schools get less.

Chicago schools would benefit from the change. But Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) says Republicans were left out of final decisions. He was disappointed a Senate hearing was cut short right before lawmakers went home for spring break.

"If there's a shifting of resources that moves money...more to CPS and aggravates that disproportionate share, the school districts in my district are going to be asking, 'Whose hide is that money coming out of? Is it ours?'"

Manar says Republicans will have more chances to suggest changes later.

"We had 45 hours of committee hearings," he said. "The issue's been around for generations. But the answer is yes. I'm open to amendments, I'm open to constructive changes on policy, I'm not open to political calculus."

Despite Republican efforts to hold up a vote, Manar's proposal won committee approval. He's promising not to call it for a vote by the full Senate until lawmakers know how their local schools would be affected.