A plan to overhaul the way Illinois funds its schools has cleared an important hurdle in the Legislature.
The Senate voted 32-19 on Tuesday to pass a plan that would require schools to demonstrate need before receiving money. That would reduce the amount of state aid that wealthier districts receive. The current method, in place since 1997, factors in a district’s poverty for some types of state aid but not others.
Republicans say they oppose the plan because it will force property tax increases to support schools.
The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), says children’s education should not depend on the wealth of their community. The majority of school funding comes from local property taxes– and the state kicks in most of the rest. He wants state money to be distributed based on how much school districts need it.
“Poverty’s reach is drastic, and we have to deal with it and the best way to do it is to equip children with the weapon of a world-class education,” said Manar.
Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) says the overhaul is not a sufficient fix to an ailing system.
“It masks how poorly the state of Illinois has funded education. In both 2013 and 2014, our schools received only 89 percent of the dollars that were due.”
The measure now moves to the house.