Rep. Bourne: School Funding Reform Needed Now

State Rep. Avery Bourne today released the following statement on school funding reform upon the House’s return to Springfield for the final month of the spring legislative session:   For years, multiple legislative commissions and committees have studied the obvious inequities of Illinois’ school funding system. As it stands now, Illinois has the most inequitable school funding system in the nation. That means students are essentially forced to play a zip code lottery that will determine whether they learn in classrooms equipped with an iPad per student or one where students share decades-old textbooks. This is a challenge we need to tackle as the legislature, and there is bipartisan agreement that it must happen soon.

We have a diverse state. A school in Naperville will not have the same needs, property values or student demographics as a school in Hillsboro. This diversity is not appropriately recognized in our current system. That’s why under our new bipartisan proposals, a new school funding formula will look at each school district’s unique characteristics. There have been countless hours spent in the last year around this bipartisan solution to our school funding problem. We cannot, however, take our eyes off of the goal. Our goal is a system that works for every student in this state. Getting this crucial reform passed is within sight. However, as often happens – this is when special deals are added or fairness is tossed out the window in exchange for what is politically expedient.   When talking about state policies, I hear often from constituents that the money flows straight to Chicago while the rest of Illinois is forgotten about. We cannot let this happen again. The children of Illinois are too important. Understand though, I agree – the children of Chicago deserve a high-quality education. Many of them are not afforded that opportunity under the current system. However, the children outside of Chicago, in central and southern Illinois deserve the opportunity to get a great education too.

We have come a long way. I am encouraged by the hard work that has been done on school funding reform and I will continue to work for a bipartisan, fair solution for every student in Illinois. We cannot continue with the broken patchwork of a system that we have now and we cannot add to the patchwork. Now is the time to pass school funding reform and it is time to do it right.