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Rauner signs new school funding formula into law

Spencer Levinson, Reporter

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Less than two weeks ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed SB 1947 into law. This new legislation is a school funding overhaul. Approved by the Senate on a 38-13 vote, one important component of the law is that funding will be distributed to schools based upon a four tier system. In this system, lower income schools are labeled with lower tier numbers like tiers one and two, while schools with more income are labeled as tier three or four.

The bill claims to “close the gap on school funding and [to make sure that] every child across the state will have access to the best education,” Rauner said in a public statement.

LT is marked as a tier four school, making it least likely to receive additional funding. The law does state, however, that no school can be provided with any less capital than that of the previous year.

“Under this bill I do not expect [LT] to receive any additional funding,” district 204 Superintendent Dr. Timothy Kilrea, said.

Tier four schools like LT have their funding determined by what is known as an adequacy target. This target is a model based upon 27 different factors, including optimal class sizes and staff positions. The model does raise some concerns about funding for LT.

“My goal is not to shoot for adequate,” Kilrea said. “I don’t think that’s any of our goals… so adequacy to me doesn’t speak to the expectation that kids and parents have regarding the education they receive at Lyons Township High School.”

The law does, however, include significant advantages for lower income schools and students. It includes a $75 million tax credit scholarship program which will empower lower income students to transfer from failing public schools.

“[This legislation] makes lasting changes that will help generations of children to come,” Rauner issued in a press release.

The bill, sponsored by seven Democrats and three Republicans, is said to represent a rare cooperative effort between the two parties. It has been deemed a “compromise legislation.”

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Rauner signs new school funding formula into law