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Illinois School Funding "Protects Inequity"

Rich Egger

Critics of the way Illinois funds schools say it's wrong that the quality of a child's education is based largely on his/her zip code.

Illinois schools are mostly funded by local property taxes, and while the state takes that into account when determining how much state money to give each district, it's not the predominant factor.

A new proposal backed by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) would make local need the number one test.

But he acknowledged it will be difficult to convince legislators --- particularly those from wealthy suburban districts --- to go along if they represent schools that would lose money.

”We're saying to our colleagues, step up to the plate. Look at our system in the state. Make an assessment if it's succeeding or failing. We have a reasonable set of solutions to those problems,” Manar said. 

He said the current system “protects inequity.”

Manar is optimistic about the measure's chances for success in the Senate. 

But it might be more difficult to get the bill through the House.  Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) said on Wednesday that he knew nothing about it.

The legislation is a result of months of research on the education funding formula by a bipartisan panel.