Lawmakers, Superintendent call for funding fix

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TAYLORVILLE- Two state lawmakers and a school superintendent called for changes to Illinois’ school funding system during a press conference here Tuesday.

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, and Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, said the state’s current and complex funding formula unfairly benefits schools in the Chicago area while putting low-income downstate districts at a disadvantage.

“As the state invests more in schools in the budget, some school districts get less despite more spending on the state level,” Manar said. “Taylorville is an example of that.”

Manar and Scherer touted a new senate bill, SB 01, which they said would put more weight on district need when distributing state education funds. While the bill is similar to a previous bill which encountered opposition from suburban school districts, Manar said it includes new provisions meant to accommodate regional differences, such as the higher cost of living in the Chicago area.

“What I would hope would happen is that we would see some leadership from the governor as well,” Manar said. “I know the governor’s interested in tackling this issue. He and I have had many conversations about it.”

The location of the press conference is significant; the Taylorville district is considering $680,000 of spending cuts, including school consolidation, elimination of junior high and freshman athletics and reduction of teaching and staff jobs. Superintendent Gregg Fuerstenau said the district has already cut back in recent years.

“In looking back a few years, about 29 percent of the administrative, teaching and support staff are no longer with this district,” Fuerstenau said. “That’s really unacceptable.”

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