School formula negotiations fail as funding bill passes House
Negotiations fell by the wayside and Chicago schools once again came to the forefront as Senate Bill 1 passed the House on Wednesday, according to Rep. Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor).
“We’ve spent a lot of time on this,” Jesiel said. “We are not the first group that has worked on school funding reform. I was hoping we would be the last, but at the end of the day there was a lot of agreement on how to fix this formula. We agreed with the formula. We liked to move forward with the formula. However, at the last hour, as we know, the formula was blown up by some sweet additions to Chicago Public Schools.”
Sponsor Rep. William Davis (D-Homewood) said SB1 will take Illinois from the worst school funding system in the country to the most envied. The measure will invest tax dollars into best practices to enhance student achievement and tailor funding to address each unique school district, he said.
It would also direct new funding to districts “furthest away from having adequate resources to educate their kids,” Davis said.
While Jesiel said she supports funding reform, she called the Chicago additions unacceptable.
“There is no question that Chicago Public Schools are underfunded and have been chronically mismanaged, but it is not the responsibility of every school district and every school student in the state to bail out Chicago Schools at the expense of their quality of education,” Jeisel said. "Make no mistake: This is a sweet deal for Chicago Public Schools.”
She urged the House to pull the bill for further discussion.
“We were close to a deal and at the last minute," she said. "They had to add a bunch of stuff that made it utterly improbable and impossible to vote for this bill. I just want to encourage you, let’s get back to the table. Let’s vote 'no' on this bill. We do not have to pass this today. We can come to some agreement. We can get a bill that benefits absolutely every student in the state and not cost students at the expense of Chicago Public Schools.”
SB1 passed the House on a 60-52 vote.