Many schools across downstate Illinois are in crisis mode following teacher layoffs, program cuts and increasing class sizes.
As the parent of one child (soon to be two) in public schools, I have to wonder why my children don't have the same opportunities as those from other parts of the state. The current funding system is one of the most inequitable, or unfair, in the nation. It relies heavily on property tax dollars that allow larger urban districts in wealthier areas to spend more per student than they do in downstate districts like Hillsboro. The quality of our children's education should never be based on their zip code.
Thanks to Senate Bill 1, recently proposed by Sen. Andy Manar, this broken formula could soon be fixed. Senator Manar's plan, which passed both houses of the Illinois legislature at the end of May, was backed by a coalition of educators, school districts, parents and other community groups. It would result in additional funding for every school in Montgomery County, including:
• Hillsboro Community School District 3 - $194,056
• Litchfield Community School District 12 - $293,226
• Nokomis Community Unit School District 22 -$201,822
• Panhandle Community Unit School District 2 - $28,788
Unfortunately, Gov. Rauner has already pledged to veto this bill in favor of keeping our broken formula which will allow for all of our school districts to lose money. Please join me in calling the governor's office at 217-782-0244, asking him to support our schools by signing Senate Bill 1.
Don't believe the political distractions that opponents are trying to bring to the forefront either. The additional dollars to our local districts represent real dollar figures projected by a real state agency, not some apples-to-oranges comparison that opponents are floating around on Facebook with phony numbers.
Bottom line: The question we ask ourselves should not be "do we do better than Chicago?" The question should be "do we do better?" The answer is an absolute "yes."