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Lawsuit would force payment of overdue school money and block attempts to get around the “evidence-based” funding model

Friday, Aug 11, 2017

[Bumped up to Friday for visibility.]

* Press release…

A group of parents from across Illinois are taking the fight for fair education funding to court and suing to ensure state education dollars are distributed under a reformed funding formula as required by state law.

“Last month, I came to Springfield to call for fair education funding, and while legislators did their job, our schools are still being held hostage to political games,” said Mary Beth Linse, a speech pathologist and parent from Ingleside who is among the plaintiffs in the case. “Every student, every school and every community needs fair funding. We want to make sure the state keeps its promise and enacts reforms that will give all students the opportunity for a great education.”

Linse is joined as a plaintiff in the case by Amy McNeil, parent of two special-needs students from Carterville, and Lisa Kulisek, a parent of two Chicago Public School students. The parents are asking a court to take steps that will ensure no funds are distributed under the current, broken funding formula, giving lawmakers more time to implement funding reform as required under the state budget. While legislators have passed reforms to the state’s funding formula that provide fair funding for every school in the state without picking winners and losers, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto has blocked implementation of reforms.

“The reforms our children need made it all the way to the governor’s desk, and it would be a disservice to them if the broken funding formula were allowed to remain in place despite the clear intent of the General Assembly,” McNeil said. “The law of our state says it’s time to fix the broken funding formula, so we are asking the courts to uphold that law.”

“We would like to force the governor and the General Assembly to do their job and work together to approve an evidence based model that provides adequate funding for Illinois’ schools,” Kulisek said. “Our children, and particularly poor children, deserve a quality education and should not be pawns in a political game.”

Click here to read the suit.

* The lawsuit seeks two things…

    (1) Compel the comptroller to pay the remaining FY17 money owed school districts for mandated categorical grants. The comptroller paid out $429 million today, but over $500 million still hasn’t been distributed. And in the event the Illinois State Board of Education submits vouchers for FY18, the plaintiffs want the judge to require the comptroller to pay the remaining FY17 dollars before paying anything for FY18.

    (2) Prohibit the Illinois State Board of Education from attempting to distribute school funding using a model other than an evidence-based model established by state statute. There are apparently some rumors going around that the governor and ISBE are contemplating either creating their own method to distribute funds or attempting to distribute funds using the old formula (we talked about a possible lawsuit on this very topic earlier this week.)

- Posted by Rich Miller        

17 Comments
  1. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 7:28 pm:

    They’re wanting the Court to enforce language that isn’t the law?


  2. - Tbd - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 7:31 pm:

    Anonymous, I think it’s the opposite. They want to make sure the Board doesn’t ignore the law.


  3. - Keyrock - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 7:34 pm:

    The end is near. Katrina has a column up on the Tronc website criticizing the amendatory veto. The sky really is falling on the Gov.


  4. - RNUG - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 7:40 pm:

    Interesting approach. Based n ye other budget language, I can see a judge agreeing to block FY18 fund disbursement unless / until SB-1 is overridden or a new bill passed.


  5. - Annonin' - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 7:49 pm:

    And Katrina just flunked GovJunk. Must have blown her interview with the Looch


  6. - Generation X - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 7:52 pm:

    We don’t need no stinking Separation of Powers round here


  7. - Eight Zero - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 8:06 pm:

    More (well-intentioned) chaos


  8. - Norseman - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 8:50 pm:

    Interesting, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I do know that the winners are the lawyers.


  9. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 8:55 pm:

    Pretty high-powered plaintiff’s attorneys. I tend to agree with Norseman.


  10. - Elliott Ness - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 9:27 pm:

    What about the distribution of the funds appropriated in SB6 following an evidence model as prescribed by ISBE based on rule making (emergency) which aligns with the original tenets of the evidence based model without the pension add ons for CPS?


  11. - blue dog dem - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 9:55 pm:

    This is how we will drive the next governor to plead with the Feds for bankruptcy protection.


  12. - JS Mill - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 10:18 pm:

    @bdd- lol, always the welcher. The new conservative defined by their tenacity to skip out on their responsibilities and run away when times get tough.

    So much for bootstraps and responsibility. I think the BTIA has a spot open for you.


  13. - Northside Dude - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 10:18 pm:

    Every evidenced-based model bill filed during this past session, and the AV of SB 1, contained a hold-harmless provision for the next year. A judge, who is elected and may even be ambitious, could order that that portion of education funding, which is over 90% of the total amount appropriated, be sent to the schools and claim that he or she is not even taking a position on separation of powers. Then everyone could fight it out over exactly what the evidence-based law will be over the coming months.


  14. - Disgusted Downstate - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 10:39 pm:

    Elliott Ness, well played. What’s the comment period on an emergency ISBE rule? And Anonymous, it sounds like they’re asking the courts to enforce the legal obligations to schools from the approved FY17 budget before any FY18 payments are released for political purposes. Schools are still owed over $1B from last year. I hope my MCATs landed today. As of 6pm per FRIS, they were not yet recorded.


  15. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 7:58 am:

    Governing by lawsuit. How efficient


  16. - wordslinger - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 9:28 am:

    In the first part of the suit, they’re just trying to get paid the balance of what they’re owed for the 16-17 school year. School’s been out for a while now.

    You know, that extra $700M Rauner has been bragging about for tne last year?

    Rauner is good at signing contracts, leases and promising money for schools. Actually living up to his word, not so much.

    There are some words for that in the private sector. Deadbeat is about the only one that conforms to the rules of the house.


  17. - City Zen - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:37 am:

    Would the school districts prefer payment in pennies?


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