Illinois Senate president wants school funding formula fix

CHICAGO (AP) — A top Democrat says inequity in Illinois’ school funding formula is the “defining crisis of our time” and an overhaul is a top priority.

Sen. Pres. John Cullerton (Source: ILGA)

Senate President John Cullerton told the City Club of Chicago on Monday the current calculation is unfair for penalizing high poverty districts.

He says there’s little disagreement Illinois’ roughly 20-year-old formula needs an overhaul. However, timing is an issue, especially with a months-long budget gridlock.

Republican legislators have said they want to shelve the issue for now. But Cullerton says it’s part of a “turnaround” Illinois needs, which is a reference to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who calls his priorities the Turnaround Agenda.

Currently, schools receive state aid to offset basic education costs through a formula factoring in poverty. However, districts also get grants based on the number of students in certain programs.