Illinois school funding plan expected to help local schools

VIENNA, IL – Illinois lawmakers have finally compromised on a funding bill for your children’s schools.

Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to sign SB 1947 Thursday afternoon in Chicago following a bipartisan compromise by lawmakers earlier in the week.

The plan lawmakers passed comes with some changes from Senate Bill 1, the evidence-based funding formula plan lawmakers had been working toward for months and the House and Senate approved in May.

School leaders stress their districts will see the same evidence-based funding formula in the new bill. It will increase the amount of funding low-income schools get without taking funding away from wealthier districts.

In school districts like Vienna, Illinois, they’re expecting just under $200,000 more per year from the state. Vienna High School Superintendent Joshua Stafford said over the past few years of proration, the state has cut their budget significantly. The new funding this measure will bring in to the district is greatly appreciated, Stafford said, but it will still take years for the district to dig itself out of the hole the state cuts left.

Stafford stressed the new funding formula plan will greatly help to address the funding inequities his kids and others in the state face.

This plan, Stafford said, has a few big changes from SB1 that will impact taxpayers and districts. It will give power back to the local school boards in two unfunded state mandates. Now, he said, they’ll be able to decide for Vienna if they want physical education every day and if school districts will continue to offer driver’s education in the school.

The plan also creates a tax credit scholarship program. The program will allow donations toward a $75 million tax credit for people who donate to private school scholarships. For someone donating $10,000 to that scholarship, it will bring in a $7,500 tax deduction. That tax credit has been criticized by many school leaders who say it will work like a private school voucher.

State Sen. Paul Schimpf said he voted for the plan because it works to reduce the amount of extra money headed to Chicago while getting much-needed funding to southern Illinois schools immediately.

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