Local lawmakers disagree on which school funding formula best se - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Local lawmakers disagree on which school funding formula best serves Rockford area


We're less than 2 weeks away from the first day of school and lawmakers still haven't compromised on a school funding formula. Local lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can't agree on which formula best serves our area. The leader of Rockford's school district says he's not happy with Gov. Rauner's changes to Senate Bill 1.

"One of my biggest concerns with the amendatory veto is the inclusion of tax incremental financing districts or TIF districts," RPS 205 Superintendent Ehren Jarrett said.

Under Rauner's amendatory veto -- school districts would be required to report revenue from TIF districts. For almost 20 years schools weren't required to report this, which made the districts seem poorer than they are, and as a result get more money. Democratic lawmakers say not coming up with compromise is hurting Illinois' most vulnerable people.

"This is extremely unfortunate because at this point prisons are funded but our education systems are not," State Rep. Litesa Wallace (D) 67th District said. "And there's something drastically wrong with that picture."

State Sen. Steve Stadelman (D) 34th Distrct said at a press conference with Jarrett and Wallace Friday that Rauner's changes on the bill would mean Rockford and Harlem school districts would lose out on money.

However, State Sen. Dave Syverson (R) 35th District says that's not true. Syverson said RPS 205 will actually get more money with Rauner's veto. The senator says under the veto, Chicago schools would be moved out of the Tier 1 category of Illinois' poorest schools, which include districts like Rockford, South Beloit and East St. Louis. With Chicago not categorized as a 'poorest school,' Rockford would see about $5 million in extra money.

"Under Senate Bill 1, Chicago (the wealthiest city in the state with the lowest property taxes) gets the LARGEST increase in state funding," Sen. Syverson said. "As a result, Rockford (with the highest property taxes) will get $4 million a year LESS than they deserve. That's wrong. We can do better."

State Representative John Cabello (R) 68th District told 13 WREX that all lawmakers should be ashamed of the back-and-forth.

"It's unfortunate...and every elected official should be ashamed of themselves and embarrassed," Rep. Cabello said.

The senate meets again on Sunday to decide what's next for Senate Bill 1.



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