My 2014 Senator Andy Manar cartoon. And he’s still at it.
-By Bev Johns
State Senator Andy Manar (Democrat from Bunker Hill) on the Illinois school funding formulas – “We should never put money into today’s system. That is a waste of money.” (Feb. 17, 2016)
Manar is just wrong. Evidently he so wants to change the school funding formulas (by taking money away from more wealthy school districts to give it to the less wealthy school districts that he represents) that he completely ignores what the current school formulas actually do.
If you do not have the money to massively increase funding for schools, you can try to take money from one school and give it to another one, partly by taking away Special Education dollars and putting them into a new General State Aid (GSA) formula.
The money needed to truly fund GSA, at the needed foundation level of $8,672, is not available. The current Foundation level in state law is only $6,119. Governor Rauner is now promising to fund only the $6,119 per student.
State Senator Andy Manar and Advance Illinois have convinced many people that ALL the school funding formulas must be changed.
Last school year under GSA, the 64 highest wealth school districts were entitled to receive only $218 per student, while the 86 poorest school districts were entitled to receive over $4,000 per student.
But last school year Illinois funded only 87 percent of those GSA amounts (proration) meaning the poorest school districts lost over 6 percent of their total budgets while the wealthy school districts lost about 1 percent of their total budgets.
More importantly, Illinois has failed for years to provide the needed funding increases for K to 12 education.
In 2002, by State law, Illinois was to provide $4,560 per student thru a combination of State and local funds (which was determined based on low-spending but high achieving school districts).
Now, by State law, Illinois is to provide only $6,119 although the amount determined based on low-spending but high achieving school districts is $8,672.
As Jim Broadway, Illinois School News Service, stated last year, “The formula no longer works” because “The original formula was crafted to ‘work’ satisfactorily as long as the state’s share of total PK-12 public school funding would be 50% or so, with the local share maybe 40% to 42% and the feds paying the rest.
“As the state’s share has fallen from a peak of about 48.5% in the mid-1970s to less than 30% of the total today, the portion paid by local property owners has ballooned to 60% or more.”
You cannot cover over the failure of Illinois to fund schools by blaming formulas that work as intended when schools get the funds they need.