In what has been a “perennial occurrence,” as noted by reporter Dan Petrella of Lee Enterprises, State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) unveiled another attempt to re-write the school aid formula on April 5. Republicans, however, say the measure is designed to bail out the already severely broken and fiscally mismanaged Chicago Public School (CPS) system.
While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree Illinois must address the state’s school-aid formula, Manar’s proposal gives hundreds of millions of dollars more to bail out CPS’ fiscal challenges, without input from key stakeholders, including taxpayers, parents, teachers, administrators, communities, legislators, and scholars.
For a decade, Democrat majorities in the Senate and House authored budgets funding elementary and secondary education, resulting in cuts to schools across the state. In 2013, Illinois’ top Democrat, House Speaker Madigan proclaimed downstate and suburban schools were getting a “free lunch” and more state funding should be directed to CPS. This year, Democrat Senate President Cullerton has threatened to withhold all school funding until there’s a new formula.