The Manar school funding formula. Facts and fictions.

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– Bev Johns

When you want to pass controversial and complicated legislation you can either get everyone in the room and negotiate OR you can talk to a few people, tell everyone the sky is falling and that you have the solution that must be passed immediately.

Illinois State Senator Andy Manar (and Illinois State Senate President Cullerton) have chosen the second path.

Cullerton states there will be NO budget for PK-12 education until AFTER the school funding formulas are changed, and Manar says any money put into the current school
funding formulas would be A WASTE OF MONEY.

Manar states –
The legislation comes after lengthy conversations with school district leaders and lawmakers statewide, as well as careful attention to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desire that no school district lose money under any reform of the state’s school funding formula.

Just talking to some local school district Superintendents and some lawmakers is not the way to do this.

Falsely claiming that NO school district would lose money (when that is true for only one year), when school districts would lose over $400 Million EACH YEAR, is not the way to do this.

FICTION: The major problem is how the money is distributed to Illinois school districts.

FACT: The major problem is the failure of Illinois to increase State funding for schools. Other States useState funds to pay for 50 percent of the cost of PK-12 education. Illinois pays for less than 30 percent.

It would take $5 Billion in State funds to bring Illinois up to the 50 percent average of other States.

Even full-funding that the Governor is offering means fully funding only the Foundation level that is in State law that HAS BEEN FROZEN SINCE 2009.

FICTION: The Manar bill will equalize spending between the $6,000 per student one district nows pends and the $30,000 per student another  school district now spends.

FACT: The Manar bill will do no such thing. It will shift around some money but not near the $5 Billion it would take to come closer to equalizing spending (and even with $5 Billion in more State money, some school districts would still spend MORE THAN TWICE AS MUCH as other school districts).

FICTION: The current school funding formulas give more money to rich districts than poor districts.

FACT: Under General State Aid the rich districts receive $218 per student, while the poor districts receive over $4,000 per student.

A poor school district can get less money under the current formulas if it LOSES STUDENTS, if it has fewer students this year than last year.

FICTION: The Manar bill will be fairer and simpler than the current school funding formulas.

FACT: No one knows. The Manar bill is extremely complicated. Even Manar says he will not know how his bill affects local school districts until ISBE gives him figures on how much money each local school district would receive under his bill.

FICTION: The Manar bill funds special education.

FACT: The Manar bill puts almost all special ed funding into one Special Education formula
block grant, based on the State average of an ISBE guess as to the number of students
with disabilities in Illinois.

Since a local school district would get exactly the same amount of State money if it has 5 percent of its students with IEPs or if it has 12 percent, there is a great incentive NOT to identify children for special education.

So the current push for full inclusion in the general ed classroom, taught by the general ed teacher, will be reinforced since the Manar bill would ELIMINATE the State law giving $9,000 inState funds for EACH special education teacher and other professionals serving students with IEPs full time.

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