Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, has a plan. He wants to put
Illinois' $6 billion in school spending in a big pile and hand it
out based on need.
ONE BIG POT: Manar wants to lump most
of Illinois' $6 billion
together, then spend it on schools that "need" it.
"We're going to put 96 percent of what we appropriate through the
'equity lens', that's the proposal," he said Monday. "We (will)
attach money to goals and outcomes — identifying students that are
at risk, identifying students that are English language learners."
Money for now falls into some nine categories and, said Manar, need
is a factor in fewer than half of those. Illinois would not spend
any new money under his plan. Rather, it would spend it differently.
"While we could have a rigorous debate about the levels we fund
schools, we'll never have that debate until we get the distribution
formula right," Manar said.
If the state is going to pay less for schools, says LeRoy schools
Superintendent Gary Tipsord,the state should get less of a say in
how schools spend their money.
"Think of it like a business. If you are a minority investor, why
should you have the greatest say in the outcomes at the local level?" Tipsord asked.
"If my local investors, my local taxpayers,
are footing 75 percent to 80 percent of the bill, why shouldn't they
have the greatest say in the expectations of LeRoy schools?"
Tipsord would like to get some leeway from the state for assessments
and standardized tests and tailor them to his district. As the state
pays less for local schools and local taxpayers pay more, it becomes
all about control.
"Should education in every community, every town, every city, every
type of school, should it look exactly the same as everybody else?"
Tipsord thinks schools should have the local flexibility to make
their own decisions.
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That could happen, Manar said.
It should happen, said Joshua Dwyer, director of education reform at
the Illinois Policy Institute.
"There was a bill last year that would have allowed districts to not
be forced to abide by the state mandates if the state was more than
two months past due on payment to the district. This could
potentially help local school districts have more freedom in their
curriculum and administrative procedures," Dwyer said. "In general,
many researchers and educators believe that the more local the decision-making
A wave of local control and school choice appears in Illinois this
year seems unlikely. But, Tipsord said, Illinois lawmakers could at
least be honest with local schools about the money schools won't be
"If they could create some predictability in the budget process," Tipsord said.
"Whether that means if they change the budget cycle, and they let us know of a
calendar-year basis. Or if they would do a multi-year budget cycle for
As it stands, Tipsord and schools across the state are making budget
decisions this month while lawmakers won't even start talking about
a new state budget until the end of March.
Contact Benjamin Yount at
Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him
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