Despite impasse, Rauner promises K-12 funding in budget address

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner promised to devote more money towards your child’s K-12 education, however, some local educators are skeptical the plan for increased funding will work.

"Our current formula doesn’t meet the needs of our children," said Rauner. "Past attempts to fix the formula didn’t work because they pitted communities against each other."

"The one thing I won’t back down on, the one thing that’s non-negotiable for me, is increasing education funding," said Rauner.

After seven years of lackluster funding, Vienna High School Superintendent Josh Stafford says he hopes Gov. Rauner keeps his word.

Budget cuts have forced Stafford to serve as superintendent, principal, technology director, and transportation director at his school.

"We’ve had to reduce spending by RIF-ing teachers, cutting bus routes, increasing class sizes," said Stafford.  "All of those things have a direct impact on students."

Rauner has pledged to increase funding to foundation levels, something Stafford has advocated. Though, Stafford says, it probably won’t make an immediate difference.

"We want to get back to where we have some financial stability in our district and not under the threat of having enough money to make payroll," said Stafford.

While foundation funding for K-12 schools sounds good in principle, John Jackson of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute says he’s not sure where that funding would come from.

"We’re already in a deficit situation. Where’s it coming from?" asked Jackson.  "They waive hands and say efficiency’s to be realized somewhere else. It’s kind of the magic asterisk saying we’ll find the money somewhere."

With no budget deal in sight, Jackson says this could just be more political rhetoric that falls to the wayside.

Rauner also pledged to add an additional $75 million to early childhood education, which would be the most in state history if passed.

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