Barickman described school funding bill as rare opportunity
When the Illinois Senate debated Senate Bill 1947 on Tuesday, Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) argued that the evidence-based funding model is a “strategic approach” that will provide students with better education opportunities.
“It’s an important opportunity we have now,” Barickman said. "We need to act now so that our schools can have the assurances that the funding is going to be there during the school year. We need to act now because we don’t want another generation of schoolchildren to miss the opportunity that proper funding will give to them.”
SB1947, a 500-page product of bipartisan negotiations, is meant to provide money to schools across the state equitably via an evidence-based funding model. A hold-harmless clause means schools will receive at least the same amount of money as they did the year prior. State aid will be prioritized to schools that are most in need.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will also receive roughly $450 million more than expected from previous education proposals, and the bill contains a provision to give $75 million in tax credits to donors to scholarships that help low-income students attend private schools.
Barickman emphasized that SB1947 is a compromise, not a perfect package.
“Not everyone is going to be happy with this,” he said. “There is certainly more work that needs to be done, and I’m sure that our side of the aisle looks forward to working with those of you on the other side of the aisle to continue to do the work that needs to be done to help give our kids the optimal learning environment that they need to be able succeed in this world economy that we asked them to compete in.”
Regardless of issues related to SB1947, Barickman called it is a historic step toward optimizing school funding that will give schools more flexibility in spending, restore confidence to taxpayers through some property tax relief and create transparency.
“Ultimately, what the evidence-based model does is create an adequate and equitable school funding program for the 2 million schoolchildren in our state who are relying on us to create a better learning environment for them,” he said.
SB1947 passed the Senate, 38 to 13, on Tuesday after passing the House, 73 to 34. Rauner signed it on Thursday, giving Illinois its first education funding reform in two decades.