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State senate overrides Rauner education funding bill veto

8/14/2017, 2:39 p.m.
On Sunday, the Illinois Senate voted to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1 (SB-1).
Uncertainty over state education funding could put the back half of the 2017/2018 school year at risk. Il State Board of Ed website

On Sunday, the Illinois Senate voted to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1 (SB-1).

The original version of the bill would have reformed the formula for school funding which supporters said would result in a more equitable distribution.

Rauner has criticized the bill as a "bailout" for the Chicago Public School system when he issued his veto which reduced CPS’ funding by just over $420 million but would have increased funding to the state’s 831 other school districts.

State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (49th district), who voted in favor of the override on Sunday, that the estimated $15 million the Governor’s amendment veto would have brought to area schools “seems tempting” on the surface.

“However, long term outcomes of the amendatory veto will erode the years of work and lead to larger problems. The education funding bill is the most significant reform in over 20 years—reform that will bring certainty to school funding, as well as fair funding for our students.”

Bertino-Tarrant joined local senator Pat McGuire (43rd district) who also voted in favor of the override saying that the new legislation “would provide equity in the way the state funds education.”

“Today’s override renews a commitment to providing a quality education for all children in Illinois. Some of our neediest school districts would finally receive the resources they need to properly educate the students they serve. I urge my colleagues in the House to support this measure and fix our inequitable formula.”

The State House of Representatives will take up the vote to override the Governor’s veto on Wednesday where it will take a 3/5 majority to enact the law as written.

According to figures released by the Governor’s office from an analysis by the Illinois State Board of Education, local school districts in Plainfield, Joliet and Bolingbrook/Romeoville would see increases in their state funding if the measure fails in the house on Wednesday.

Plainfield School District 202 would be set to receive an additional $7.9 million in funding, Joliet School District 86 another $4.1 million and Valley View School District 365 would gain an additional $4.0 million.

Of those three, District 86 receives the largest portion of its funding from the state at 59%. It also has the highest percentage, at 90 percent, of its students designated as living in poverty.

The uncertainty over funding has also called in to question how long school districts will be able to stay open for the 2017/2018 school year with the state missing its scheduled payment to districts which was set to go out on August 10.

Joliet District 86 superintendent Dr. Theresa Rouse said last week that the district’s schools would open as scheduled on August 21 but how long they would remain open was in question.

“We can start school but we won’t be able to continue at the end of December,” she said.