[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.)