State lawmakers debate education funding

Apr 2, 2014

Legislators are beginning to debate how much money the state will put toward education. First, though, a group of legislators say Illinois needs to fix how it parcels out that money to individual districts. 

Here's how Senator Andy Manar sums it up:

"How we spend money is equally as important as how much we spend."

Manar, a Democrat form Bunker Hill, says Illinois has a problem with the "how." He says the state uses an outdated formula to determine what portion of Illinois' education budget each school gets.

"Buildings closing in downstate and in Chicago, kids that are shoved into windowless rooms, textbooks that are being opened every day in every part of this state that are 15 years old ... the achievement gap rising in poverty-stricken districts. Those things are all a direct result of a law that today protects inequity."

Illinois schools rely heavily on local property taxes for funding, which means districts in poor areas have less to spend per student than those in wealthier areas. Manar proposes making a districts' need the biggest factor in determining its share of state education funding.