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McHenry, Lake County schools fare better under compromise school funding proposal

According to an analysis from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), local schools in the 32nd Senate District would receive more financial help under a compromise school funding bill sponsored by State Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry). Senate Bill 1124 Amendment 3 would fix the state’s broken school aid formula—providing a more equitable system for all 852 Illinois schools than any previous proposal.

“This legislation is the most fair and equitable school funding reform proposal the General Assembly has seen,” said Sen. Althoff. “It represents the priorities of both Republican and Democrat lawmakers, and reflects the recommendations presented by the bipartisan, bicameral Illinois School Funding Reform Commission.”

According to the data provided from ISBE, Senate Bill 1124 Amendment 3 would do a better job of delivering financial help to low-income students than previous legislation advanced by the General Assembly, including Senate Bill 1. In fact, though proponents of SB1 have touted financial increases for schools through tier funding, the ISBE analysis clearly shows every single school district in the state would receive more tier funding under Senate Bill 1124 as amended.

“Regardless of zip code, this legislation treats all school districts the same and focuses on best practices to create real equity,” said Sen. Althoff. “Not only is SB 1124 better for schools in my district, but it is better for all schools across the state.”

A major difference between Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 and Senate Bill 1 is how Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are treated. Both bills use the same system to establish the base funding minimum for schools, which ensures that no school would lose money. However, Democrats added hundreds of millions of dollars to the base funding minimum for CPS, money that no other school would have access to.

“We all care deeply about the students in Chicago, but to put CPS ahead in line of other school districts who need just as much help is just not fair,” said. Sen. Althoff. “Under Senate Bill 1, CPS would get a sweetheart deal designed to, and effectively making, the city and economic engine of Illinois look so poor as to be pushed ahead of 100s of school districts in this state who really are in need.”

Governor Rauner has promised to veto SB1, referring to the massive windfall for CPS as a “bailout.” Rauner made it clear however, that he would sign SB1124 due to its more equitable and fair method for funding all schools.

Sen. Althoff said she is interested in reforming the school funding formula to provide fair and adequate funding to all 852 schools districts, not just one, which is why she has sponsored Senate Bill 1124.

Senate Bill 1124 accepts the conceptual framework and key reform provisions from Senate Bill 1, including additional provisions for students living in concentrated poverty, protections for students who are bilingual or in need of special education services, charter school parity, and escalators and regionalization factors to acknowledge variable costs.

Furthermore, this evidence-based bill also establishes an adequacy target for each district in the exact same way as Senate Bill 1 and distributes the funds equitably through a similar tiered system to ensure that those districts with the greatest gap and that are most in need get state money first.

Senator Althoff said she remains hopeful that the Senate will immediately take up SB1124 during special session.

Comparison between how the two bills would fund schools in the 32nd District

The full ISBE analysis for both bills is available at 

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