Downstate Republican Senators in Illinois are trying to set the school funding record straight. Jason Barickman and Bill Brady, both of Bloomington, held a news conference to refute recent claims made by Chicago-area lawmakers that downstate schools were getting a "free lunch" when it comes to funding. The debate centers around proposed pension reforms that would shift more of the pension funding burden on local school districts. Barickman says it's really Chicago schools that are getting the "free lunch"
"The city of Chicago enrolls 31% of the poverty students in Illinois but are receiving 47% of the poverty grant funding. It's a disparity, or funding difference, to the tune of over $250 million against our downstate schools."
Barickman says the group is not interested in creating a regional war with the city of Chicago. He says they just want to make sure downstate schools have their voices heard. Both Barickman and Brady say transparency is the key toward eventual equity in school funding. Prior to the event, the two senators briefed a handful of central Illinois school superintendents on the funding equity efforts.
Support Your Public Radio Station