Suburban and downstate school districts could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid every year under a Chicago Public School bailout plan forced through the Senate May 10, according to Senator Jim Oberweis.
Initial numbers released by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) showed that Senate Bill 231 would lead to about $197 million in losses in suburban and downstate districts. According to the data from the ISBE, Senate Bill 231 would pull more than $66.3 million from collar county schools, more than $101.3 million from North Cook County schools, and more than $28.7 million in funding from downstate schools, all to redirect nearly $175 million in additional funding to Chicago Public Schools.
Senator Oberweis said Senate Bill 231 is a major step backward in the effort to reform the state's current school funding formula, and is little more than a plan to funnel suburban and downstate dollars into the bankrupt Chicago school system.
"I agree that we need to reform school funding, but this is not the way to do it. This is a 500-page Chicago Public Schools bailout that few legislators understand. I suggested a simple approach. X dollars per student plus Y dollars per student in poverty plus Z dollars per student with special needs. That would be understandable by all and fair for all. I suggested a bipartisan panel to work on coming up with those three numbers," Senator Oberweis said. "But this is a bad bill. The Chicago Public Schools system needs significant reforms before we hand it $750 million worth of special deals, which this bill does."
The 25th District Senator says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree the current school funding formula needs to be fixed, but Senate Bill 231 is not the answer to the problem. The state needs to continue to work to develop a new formula, and in the meantime, the state can offer school districts certainty through immediately passing a K-12 budget that fully funds General State Aid for the first time in seven years, as suggested by Governor Bruce Rauner.
Approved by a 31-21-3 vote, Senate Bill 231 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.