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2/21/2014 3:26:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Righter bill seeks to rectify education funding inequities
SPRINGFIELD - Seeking to rectify what he calls inequities in education funding, State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) has introduced legislation that will increase parity in how state education dollars are distributed.

"A review of the state's system of education funding confirmed that serious inequities have been built into financing Illinois schools," Righter said. "My legislation targets some of the areas where we see the most outrageous disparities and seeks to level the playing field between downstate, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and suburban school districts."

Righter's measure, Senate Bill 3525, would eliminate the Chicago Block Grant, requiring CPS to compete with other schools for state dollars. Righter explained that unlike every other school district, CPS receives a "set aside" through the block grant, which is based on outdated percentages that are nearly two decades old.

During the 2012 - 2013 school year CPS automatically received $477. 8 million through the Chicago Block Grant-$225 million more than they would have received if they were competing for those dollars like downstate and suburban schools.

Righter said the legislation would also revise how the poverty grant is calculated to make it more equitable. Based on the current formula, Righter said that though Chicago enrolls 31 percent of poverty students in Illinois, it receives 47 percent of the Poverty Grant funding. As a result, disadvantaged children in Chicago receive far more than impoverished children in other areas of the state. Senate Bill 3525 would bring the state's poverty calculation in line with the federal government's to reduce the disparities.

"These inequities are the result of an outdated, unbalanced formula and should be altered to restore equity to state poverty grant funding," said Righter.

Finally, Righter said the legislation would allow a school district to disregard certain unfunded state mandates following a public hearing on the issue.

"Burdensome unfunded mandates consume money and resources that could be used by school districts to more effectively educate our kids. The teachers, administrators and the community know best what their students need-this would place some of the school districts' financing decisions back into local hands," said


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