EDITORIAL: Olsen Reflects on Passage of Historic School Funding Reform

The following editorial written by State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) was published on September 6 in a local newspaper:

Republican and Democratic legislators from all corners of the state recently came together with Governor Rauner to enact historic legislation that fundamentally changes how Illinois’ 852 public schools are funded. Illinois, long known for having the worst education funding system in the nation, will now distribute state education dollars through a comprehensive evidence-based formula designed to maximize every child’s opportunities for success, regardless of their zip code.

Previous failed attempts to revamp the school funding formula sought to take funding away from our local schools and redirect it toward Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and other school districts. This new legislation does not take one dime away from our local schools. At its core, the new evidence-based model is based on years of study and many recommendations from the bi-partisan School Funding Reform Commission. It secures current funding levels for every Illinois school district and prioritizes new funding for the most impoverished schools and students.

As is the case with any successful compromise, no one is walking away 100% pleased. There are components of this bill I do not like. But there are also important elements that will benefit the taxpayers in the 81st District, including unfunded mandate relief and ensuring CPS normal pension costs are paid outside the school funding formula.

Students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers should know that high-quality education is a top priority of their State government. As the new formula is implemented, we will continue to assess the effectiveness of the new model and amend it as needed to ensure we are best serving the next generation.

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