News Local/State

IL Senate Passes Democrats’ School Funding Reform Bill, While GOP Cries Foul

State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) in an undated photo at the Statehouse Dusty Rhodes/WUIS

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's chief education adviser says the governor won't support an overhaul of Illinois' school-funding formula if it benefits Chicago Public Schools ``at the expense'' of others. 

The Illinois Senate approved legislation Wednesday aimed at eliminating the disparity in spending between affluent school districts and those serving poorer communities. Senate Bill 1 is sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, who has tried several times to get education funding reform through the legislature.

Similar legislation is in the House. 

Both Democratic proposals would establish a funding target for each school district that reflects the needs of its students. 

The measures also allow Chicago Public Schools to continue receiving millions in grants and require the state to begin covering some of the districts' pension costs. Illinois pays those costs for other districts. 

Beth Purvis is Rauner's education secretary. She says Rauner won't support any ``special'' deals for CPS. Purvis says Manar “abandoned our bipartisan process, departing from agreements already finalized” in the governor’s School Funding Reform Commission.

Republican Sen. Jason Barickman of Champaign has proposed his own school funding reform plans, and has at times worked with Manar to try to seek compromise on the issue. But Barickman accused Senate Democrats of “ramming through a partisan bill”.  He says Manar’s measure would give Chicago Public Schools more than $200 million more in funding that it would receive it was treated like other school districts.

Manar denies the GOP’s accusation. Replying to the statement from the Rauner administration’s Beth Purvis, Manar wrote on his Twitter account, “Governors shouldn’t be allowed to make stuff up. But he constantly does.”