School Funding Reform Passes: Cavaletto Supports Compromise Bill to Help Children and Parents

 On Monday State Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem), a member of the Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education Committee, during the Special Session of the Legislature, supported the final compromise legislation to change the school funding formula in Illinois.

“No School district will receive less than they were allocated last year and this historic change, for me, was about the students and the parents,” said Rep. Cavaletto, a 38-year retired educator. “I promised all along that I would fight for whatever proposal brought the most money to my area without a bailout to Chicago Public Schools pensions.”

Senate Bill 1947 changes the way education dollars are allocated based upon a new ‘evidence-based funding formula model with a minimum funding level (MFL) of $350 million per year. Starting in Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) $50 million will be used for a property tax swap to high-taxed low-wealth school districts so they can reduce their local property tax burden.

There is Mandate relief in this legislation. It replaces Physical Education (PE) requirements to a minimum of three days per week, allows for exceptions for students who participate in athletics and expands to 7th – 12th graders instead of just 11th & 12th. Under this new law, a school district may hold a public hearing on a PE waiver request at a regularly-scheduled board meeting instead of at a separate meeting. Also, a school district may contract with a third-party offering driver’s education without submitting a mandate waiver request. This is a common practice in many states across the country.

With this legislation comes the creation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Task Force to study the benefits and costs of TIF districts; the interaction of TIF law and school funding; the expenditure of TIF funds; and the expenditure of TIF surplus funds. The Task Force shall submit its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by April 1, 2018.

“This legislation is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direct for fairness in funding for all 842 school districts and it keeps the schools open for our children to get the education they need to be successful in their lives,” added Cavaletto.

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