Senator Suggests Switching School Funding Distribution

Apr 3, 2014

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, says his kids' art classes are held in a former janitors' closet -- a sign of what happens as a result of Illinois' school funding formula.
Credit Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois


Critics of the way Illinois funds schools say it's wrong that the quality of a child's education is based largely on her zip code.

That's because schools are mostly funded by local property taxes. While Illinois takes that into account when determining how much state money to give each district, it's not the predominant factor.

A new proposal, backed by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, would make local need the number one test.

But he acknowledges it'll be difficult to convince legislators, particularly those from wealthy, suburban districts, to go along if they represent schools that would lose money.

"We're saying to our colleagues, step up to the plate," he says. "Look at our system in the state. Make an assessment if it's succeeding or failing. We have a reasonable set of solutions to those problems."

Manar was optimistic about the measure's success in the Senate. But when asked about it Wednesday, House Speaker Michael Madigan -- whose backing would be necessary to get such a controversial plan passed -- says he knows nothing of the effort.

The legislation is a result of a bipartisan panel's months of research on the education funding formula.