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Illinois school survival depends on funding reforms, superintendents say

SILVIS -

Illinois school districts may not survive the next year without long-term funding reforms.  That's the warning from regional school leaders on Thursday, April 20.

East Moline schools are among those calling on Illinois to stop relying on property taxes to pay for education.  The district of 2,800 already cut 20 teaching positions.

"It's devastating to our community," said Superintendent Kristin Humphries.  "It's devastating to our teachers, and we've got to get something done."

That's why school leaders are pushing for a new way of paying for education.  Called Evidence-Based Funding, it aims to level the playing field by closing the financial gap between richer and poorer districts.

"We need to look at all of our children," said Regional Superintendent Jodi Scott.  "When we can do that, those decisions can be made."

Illinois has already shortchanged East Moline schools some $7 million over the last 7 years. That's prompting the call to act before the current school year is over.

Illinois Rep. Tony McCombie, (R) Savanna, is among those supporting HB2808.  It's awaiting a vote before the session is set to end on May 31.

"Here's the thing: you have to get politics out of it," she said.  "Let us vote on it.  Let us go up or down."

East Moline schools must make more tough decisions in June.  Without solutions, classes could end by early October.

School leaders say they need long-term solutions to last at least a decade, not more short-term, stopgap funding.

"We serve the children of this community," Humphries concluded.  "It's hard to do it when they're playing games in Springfield."

For more information: http://fundingilfuture.org/fixtheformulaIllinois