Educators, Community Leaders Call for Long-Term Solution to School Funding Crisis - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Educators, Community Leaders Call for Long-Term Solution to School Funding Crisis

LOMBARD – Some 200 educators and community leaders from across metropolitan Chicago gathered at the “Building Consensus for School Funding Reform” meeting in Lombard this morning to call for a comprehensive solution to Illinois’ broken school-funding system.

“In this land of Abraham Lincoln, who represented the ideals of equality and opportunity, we owe much more to the children of this state than we are currently providing. The student achievement gap will grow unacceptably larger the longer we wait to address education funding reform. We’ve got to get out of bed, get dressed, and face the day on these issues. Today will be that day,” said Glenn (Max) McGee, superintendent of Wilmette Public Schools District 39.

The event, which consisted of three panel discussions with audience questions, was sponsored by A+ Illinois, Better Funding for Better Schools Coalition, Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, and Illinois Principals Association. In addition to McGee, panelists included MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council; Dean Clark, member of the Illinois State Board of Education; Kenneth Jandes, superintendent of Ridgeland School District 122 in Oak Lawn; Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability; Ill. Rep. Will Davis (D-30th); and Jerome Stermer, president of Voices for Illinois Children.

A+ Illinois is a statewide campaign for education quality and funding reform endorsed by more than 100 organizations. A+ Illinois advocates that state government take a greater financial role supporting local education. Restructuring the tax system to decrease education’s over-reliance on property taxes – and bring property tax relief – will provide more funds for education and the other human services that support learning.

Education leaders from throughout the Chicago region agreed it’s imperative that all school districts get involved in the campaign to reform school funding.

“All Illinoisans are affected when some children are denied access to a high-quality education. We must have regional and statewide cooperation to address the major gaps in student achievement and school funding between kids living in property-poor communities and kids in more affluent communities,” said Katherine Robbins, superintendent of Leyden School District 212 in Franklin Park.

“It’s critical that the state provides adequate resources to ensure all Illinois schools can deliver a high-quality education. We must both raise the per-pupil minimum funding the state guarantees and fully fund the state’s share of special education mandates,” stated Supt. Jandes.

Eighty percent of Illinois school districts are deficit spending and lack adequate funding from the state. Per-pupil spending varies widely – ranging from $4,000 to over $18,000 per student – because the funding system relies heavily on local property taxes.

“Illinois students need a solid education to develop the knowledge and skills that will enable our businesses to compete,” said Clark, who is also president and CEO of the Graphic Chemical and Ink Company. “Funding reform and fiscal and performance accountability reform must be pursued on parallel paths to ensure Illinois advances from its rank among the nation’s worst in per-pupil spending gaps across school districts and state funding support for education.”

“Every Illinois child deserves an A+ education, no matter where he or she lives,” said Bindu Batchu, A+ Illinois campaign manager. “State lawmakers have been talking about the need to fix the school-funding system since the parents of today’s students were in school. There are solutions to this crisis. What we need now is the political will and courage to move forward on them.”

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Education

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