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Illinois Task Force Looks At Addressing Education Funding Disparities

A legislative task force in Illinois is looking at better ways to fund K-12 public schools in the state.

State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), who is on the task force, said he wants education funding in Illinois to be simpler and fairer.

“What’s happening when you take money off the top and give it to Chicago Public Schools, it basically says to a school child or a family with school children that doesn’t go to the Chicago Public Schools that the state of Illinois things they’re worth less than those students in Chicago Public Schools,” Barickman said.

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, about 55 percent of students in the Champaign School District qualify as low-income and the district receives $1,117 from the state for each of these students. But the Chicago Public School District receives more than twice that amount with 90 percent students qualifying as low-income.

The bipartisan task force plans to make recommendations on Illinois’ education funding system by next February.

“Our system today is broken,” said State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), who is leading the task force. “It’s on a path that is broken, and the further we get away from the last time school funding was looked at in this state under Gov. Edgar in 1997, the worse it gets.”

Manar said funding disparities between downstate and Chicago schools – like dollars used to assist low-income students - are also a major concern he hopes to address.

Nearly 30 percent of all state funds are used to support K-12 public education. The Illinois State Board of Education finds that Illinois ranks last nationally in its level of support.