From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

Analysis Shows School Funding Plan Would Benefit Downstate Districts

Downstate schools would be the primary winners under a proposed school funding overhaul before the General Assembly.

A report from Illinois' board of education could lead to a regional divide when it comes up for a vote.

Illinois' public school system relies heavily on property taxes, often meaning the quality of a student's education will depend on his or her zip code. However, a proposal in the General Assembly would completely change the state's complicated funding formula.

A new analysis from the state board of education shows that under the proposed new math, downstate districts would get more money, Chicago Public Schools would see their state funding drop slightly and wealthier, suburban districts would lose the most.

"It looks like yet again, this is an attempt to reach into the suburban pockets to solve other people's problems," Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) said.

But the measure's sponsor, Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said the state needs all districts to have parity.

"The path we're on is not a good one. Sooner or later it's going to catch up to Senator Murphy," Manar said. "The idea that we can have some successful school districts while others fall behind and call that a success as a state is not what we should be doing here," he said.

Manar said ISBE's analysis demonstrates that worries about his proposal significantly ramping up spending or inordinately favoring CPS were unfounded.

"All of the Republican claims were absolutely wrong," he said. "But it doesn't matter if they were right or wrong. But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if they were right or wrong. What matters is we have a good bill."

The plan won approval in a Senate committee and now moves on to the full Senate.