Education reform bill advances more equitable and fair funding for students

Historic school funding legislation was signed into law August 31 that puts children first and makes lasting changes that will help generations of children to come.

“This new school funding law, born of bipartisan collaboration and compromise, is exactly what Illinois schools need and deserve," said Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington). “I want to commend Governor Rauner, who recognized that if we're going to improve our schools and ensure every student gets a quality education, then we needed to work together to ensure all 852 school districts in Illinois are treated fairly and equitably.”

Under the compromise legislation, Illinois’ new education funding formula will distribute funding to each district based on the needs of the children in the district. The majority of education funds will go to those districts that have the largest gap between their adequacy targets and available local resources.

“This is truly an historic moment for Illinois, for our schools and, most importantly, for our children," said state Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), a chief co-sponsor of the bill. “This represents a historic shift toward a new education funding system where the quality of a child's education will no longer be dependent on where they live. Today is an opportunity to show how we can come together in a divided government to accomplish great things and to find a way to build on that success.”

A critical pillar of this new education funding bill is the options it offers parents when it comes to selecting the very best education for their children. This is accomplished by ensuring district-authorized charter schools receive funding equal to that of district-managed schools and by creating a tax credit scholarship program to provide families with limited financial resources better access to private schools. The scholarship program encourages individuals and businesses to empower families to choose schools that best meet the needs of their children.

For taxpayers, homeowners who live in school districts that exceed their adequacy targets will be able to seek property tax relief through a referendum.

This compromise also provides much-needed mandate relief for school districts and presents avenues for property tax relief to homeowners.

“This new law finally gives equitable education funding to all students regardless of where they live, making the dreams of our students more possible,” said state Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris), a chief co-sponsor of the bill. “Our teachers and students will gain critical new resources, which will provide for more opportunities. The mandate relief will give better flexibility for school districts. There is also a mechanism to lower property taxes in districts that are overtaxed. This new law is a win for every student now and for future generations.”

“In addition to this law ensuring that new state funding goes first to the poorest kids who need it most across the state, it ensures that no district loses funding and begins to put tools into the hands of property tax payers in those districts that are overfunded to seek relief,” said state Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), who was a member of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. “This is an important step in providing both equity in school funding and relief from our fundamentally broken system.”

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