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Superintendents Lobby in Favor of School Funding Shift

By Rob Sussman, WJBD News

A group of local school superintendents ventured to Springfield on Thursday to meet with lawmakers on a new school funding proposal drafted by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill). The proposal, which would distribute state aid based on a new, weighted scale that takes into account poverty rate, students with disabilities, and gifted students, would mean more money for almost every school district in South Central Illinois. 

Sandoval District Superintendent Jennifer Garrison was among the group that ventured to Springfield, Sandoval Schools is among the districts in the area that would benefit the most from the proposal.

"Every district has a 1.0 when they start out, and then factors such as low income, special education, and gifted students increase that number. Sandoval has a 1.8 factor, and that would get us back to being able to provide a quality education, not just an education" said Garrison.   Sandoval Schools would see a state aid increase of 39.4% or more than one-million dollars. 

Patoka Schools would see their revenue increase by more than 30% as well.  Superintendent Leslie Foppe feels the suburban Chicago schools can survive with greatly reduced state aide.  "I've lived in the Chicago area for ten years and those suburbs have a lot of resources as far as getting local dollars.  That's just it, they are able to spend more than four times as much educating a child versus us," said Foppe.  

The Superintendent of South Central Schools Rick Batchelor and Salem High School Superintendent Brad Detering were the other Marion County Superintendents making the trip to Springfield to support the bill.

Centralia High School Superintendent Chuck Lane was not among the Superintendents to venture to Springfield, however he still says he supports the plan. He says that while the proposal would seriously decrease the amount of aid given to suburban Chicago collar-county school districts, it's about time Downstate Illinois had a break.

"What you're going to hear is that there is gonna be a lot of pain for those districts up there and that there is winners and losers in all this, and my argument is: we've been losing all along. We've been the losers for the past 20 years in this funding formula, it's time for a change" said Lane.

Lane believes, however, that the bill as it stands would not pass the legislature as it currently stands as the cuts in funding for upstate schools are too harsh. This sentiment is shared by Salem Republican State Representative John Cavaletto, who is currently undecided on the measure.

"This is more deep and complex than people realize, it looks good on paper. Some people are going to be happen and some people are going to be unhappy. And we're gonna have to see how 118 representatives vote for this" Cavaletto told WJBD.

The bill is current in the senate. State Senator Kyle McCarter told the local superintendents he was not currently in favor of the bill, but was willing to look at it further.  

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