No SB231 if it hurts special ed students.

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I agree with State Representative Guzzardi on SB231.

This is the third Illinois legislative session where Democratic Senator Andy Manar has proposed changes to the state school funding formula.

This year’s version is SB 231.

Each iteration of the bill has one thing in common: it doesn’t come up with additional revenue for schools.

Special education programs, teachers and students will pay the price.

Manar says his intention is to provide equity by moving money from wealthier districts to poor ones.

There is no definition of a wealthy district. Two-thirds of the state’s school districts are already on the financial watch list.

One definition for a wealthy district is one that only receives the general state aid flat grant of $218 per student. That definition applies to about 60 districts out of nearly 600 in the state.

It isn’t clear how much money would go to cash-strapped Chicago.

It is possible that CPS will receive an additional $200 million (far less than the $350 million I have heard some suggest) from SB231. CPS is facing billion dollar budget deficits.

The additional money could save several thousand CPS teaching positions next year. That is not a little potato.

Without changes to the bill, special education takes a major hit since special education categorical grants will be moved to block grants.

A categorical grant requires the money be spent on special education.

A block grant puts the money in a district’s  general fund.

Special ed funding would not be protected in any district under Senate Bill 231, rich or poor. 

In the long term, it is impossible to achieve equitable funding without additional revenue. In the short term, there are actions that can be taken in the face of the Rauner-created budget crisis.

I agree with State Representative Will Guzzardi that special education programs, teachers and students should not pay for the legislature’s unwillingness to come up with additional revenue.

Yesterday SB 231 was assigned to the House Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is under the absolute control of Speaker Madigan. The deadline for action has been extended to May 27th. The bill can be held and amended at the last minute, possibly as part of any grand compromise with the Governor.

The change to special education funding should not be part on any final bill.

2 thoughts on “No SB231 if it hurts special ed students.

  1. The $200m reflects the normal pension cost that the state would now pay. The GSA allotment would increase $175m over the FY15 disbursement. Combined that’s $375 million.

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