Republican Lawmakers sent school superintendents letter over education funding reform

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND)- A group of Republican lawmakers on Governor Rauner's School Funding Reform Commission are sending a letter to school superintendents about the school funding formula reform. 

This comes after Senator Andy Manar's SB1, an education funding reform bill passed the Senate Wednesday evening on a party line vote. The letter will highlight the differences between SB1 and Republican Senator Jason Barickman education funding reform bill, SB1124.

"We feel that our bill is reflective of what we are hearing from our school districts, from our superintendents, the differences between the two bills which we outlined in our letter that we are now sending to the superintendents and the school  boards and the principals show a couple differences between the two bills." said Senator Sue Rezin, R-Peru. 

Republicans took issue with the passage of the bill Wednesday, which they say does not include all the reforms discussed in the commission. They say there are three main differences between the two bills. 

First, is the inclusion of mandate relief. 

"When you are negotiating big ticket items like this mandate relief needs to be part of this education funding formula, it will not pass as a stand alone bill. But it is very important school districts to allow them to decide how to control their costs." said Sen. Rezin.

Second, is how money is allocated. 

"There are still two banks that are baked into Senator  Manar's bill that disproportionately distribute the dollars. Not to the downstate schools, but we feel to other school districts that have declining enrollment. We want all schools to win in this new funding formula, but not at the expense of the smaller, rural, downstate school districts." explained Sen. Rezin. 

 And finally, is a means test. 

"If there is a school district in the tier 2, and there are about 250 school districts that could potentially be in that tier 2, if you have a high tax and a low concentration of ERV, or property wealth. You should move to that top of that list. There are some school districts now that have the ability to bring up their taxing base to fund education."

Wednesday night Senator Manar responded to criticism about the passage of the bill from Governor Rauner and Republicans.

“The Rauner administration and Republicans want to behave like this is a vexing new problem that Illinois has never tried to tackle before. The truth is this is a more than 20-year-old problem that we have studied to death, repeatedly debated and willfully ignored." he said in a statement. "We owe it to our students of today and our students of tomorrow to deal with Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation school funding formula now. Educators, parents, taxpayers, students and advocates are clamoring for change, and we would be remiss to not get this done before May 31. Gov. Rauner knows this, and so does his education secretary, Beth Purvis."

SB1 has been sent to the House for consideration.

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