ABC 7 Chicago - July 17, 2017 | original article

By Sarah Schulte

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Gov. Bruce Rauner is now calling on the leaders in Springfield to release a bill that reforms public school funding in the state.

He's threatening to use another tactic he says will give even more money for more classrooms.

The governor says he will not sign into law a new school funding formula bill unless money is moved from Chicago Public Schools to other districts.

The bi-partisan Senate bill 1 fixes what many say is a decades-old broken education funding system.

With a school year set to begin in a few weeks, superintendents from around the state strongly support it.

Lake County school superintendents hope a new state funding formula will promise more equity among all school districts, regardless of their zip code.

"No district loses money, I can tell you from my districts prospective in particular it was important for us to make sure there was no Robin Hood scenario going on," said Brian Harris, superintendent of Barrington 220 School District.

On Monday, Harris stood with superintendents from poorer school districts urging Gov. Rauner to sign SB 1, a bill that changes the funding formula to an evidence-based system which means lower-income districts, who don't have a strong property base, will no longer be short changed.

"The current state funding model Round Lake has lost over $18 million from 2012-2016," said Constance Collins, superintendent of the Round Lake Area School District 116.

However, Rauner said SB1 is nothing more than a pension bailout for CPS. He plans an amendatory veto that diverts money from CPS to other school districts.

"Chicago will not get the money, Decatur is going to get the money. And do you know how much more money Decatur teachers and students are going to get? $1.6 million per year. Think about that," Rauner said.

SB 1 supporters said the bill is not a CPS bailout.

"There are 268 districts that get more money per pupil than Chicago in this formula," said state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake.

In a written response to the governor's plan for an amendatory veto, CPS calls it illegal and a stunt.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it's unfortunate that Rauner is pursuing a political path rather than a productive one.

While CPS schools will open on time, there are others threatening not to open unless SB 1 is signed into law.

Category: In The News

Senator Bush joins local superintendents in urging the governor to sign Senate Bill 1Chicago Tribune - July 17, 2017 | original article

By Emily K. Coleman

The broken way the state of Illinois divvies up money for schools needs to be fixed and now "is as good a time as any to fix" it, a Lake County senator said Monday.

That is state Sen. Melinda Bush's justification for why the budget – which was approved over Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto earlier this month – tied school funding to the passage of a bill that Rauner has vowed to veto, calling it a bailout of the Chicago Public Schools system.

Bush, surrounded by school district superintendents from across Lake County, called on Rauner to pass the new formula, which proponents say will steer more money to school districts with high numbers of low-income students, English language learners and students that require special education services without negatively impacting other districts.

"We know that we have a broken school funding formula," Bush said. "This is not a surprise to anybody in this room. This is something we have known for a long time in the state of Illinois. It's something that people have worked for years to try and fix the equity. This is as close as we have ever come."

The urgency created by tying the passage of a new formula to school funding may be the only way legislation will get passed, said former Grayslake Community High School District 127 Superintendent Catherine Finger, who now sits on the College of Lake County Board of Trustees.

Lake County superintendents have traveled to Springfield "countless times" to talk about education funding, she said. Each time, hearing after hearing, meeting after meeting, the legislation would be tied to the budget but then decoupled so that schools could start on time.

"I can't sleep at night thinking about not having a budget in place for our schools, and yet if we don't have the sense of urgency, I fear we're never going to hit the issue of equitable funding for kids in the state of Illinois," Finger said.

The new formula is research-based, designed by those in the education field and modeled off formulas used in other states, Bush said, emphasizing that the changes affect only new dollars and that no school district is negatively impacted.

Read more ...

Category: In The News

Murphy School floodingChicago Tribune - July 14, 2017 | original article

By Frank S. Abderholden

Walking into W.J. Murphy Elementary School in Round Lake Park following this week's flooding, the first thing that comes to mind is either a bait shop or a bag of wet, dirty laundry.

"Too bad you can't post smell," said State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said on Friday in a Facebook live video on her cellphone while touring the Greenwood Drive school.

Murphy Elementary was devastated by flooding Wednesday after water knocked out a giant electrical box outside of the building and shut off power.

Shelia Duhon, executive director of operations for Round Lake Community Unit School District 116, toured the building with Bush and State Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Round Lake Beach. Duhon said the district has several post-flood issues at its schools, which covers 10 buildings from preschool through high school.

While Raymond Ellis Elementary School in Round Lake was also affected by the floods, the damage at Murphy was devastating, especially since students are scheduled to start school at the end of August, said Duhon.

"The library is really our epicenter of our whole building, and obviously, it's a total loss," she said.

Duhon added that "it's really hard to see the devastation" while looking over the library area of the school, where flood water had completely covered all the bookshelves.

The gymnasium was also flooded, and it is also used as the school's cafeteria. A music room was flooded along with a computer room — according to Duhon, all the computers were under water — and four of the fourth-grade classrooms had several feet of water. The schools computer server room was also located in the basement and was flooded.

Duhon said Friday that the water had receded some, but crews cannot pump it out until the water outside the school goes down. The school serves 533 students.

"We've contacted other districts, and we may have enough space at our other elementary schools to absorb the students," she said. The school has insurance, but the amount of water will mean replacing drywall and cleaning vents and walls.

"You are going to have to do mold remediation," said Yingling. "This is just terrible."

"We will also have to get a structural engineer to look at the building," Duhon said. The school has had some water issues in the past, and after another flood knocked out the electrical box, it was raised two feet when it was replaced, but that wasn't high enough.

"It's never been like this. It's never gotten (water) this high," she said.

Category: In The News

Rauner Chicagoist - June 21, 2017 | original article

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner took to television and Facebook live Tuesday evening to deliver a three minute speech promoting his version of “compromise” on a solution to the state’s almost three-year long budget impasse.

Addressing an empty room in Springfield’s Old State Capitol, the governor opened by referencing Abraham Lincoln’s famous “house divided” speech, which took place in the same building in 1858. Rauner however, is no Abraham Lincoln, and his speech resembled a bad pitch from a used car salesman rather than an address from a man who would later become America’s 16th President.

“Right now our state is in real crisis, and the actions we take in the days ahead will determine how history remembers us,” said Rauner.

The governor’s address came the night before lawmakers in Springfield are set to convene for a special 10-day legislative session, which Rauner called to address the budget crisis. If a deal isn’t reached, Illinois will begin its third year without a budget. Since the impasse began, Rauner has blamed Democratic legislators—particularly House Speaker Michael Madigan—for the impasse. Lawmakers and others opposed to Rauner’s agenda in turn have put the blame on the governor, particularly because some of his demands “reforms” are non-budgetary in nature. Caught in the middle is the rest of the state—particularly social services and any other entity that’s done business with it...

...Rauner’s critics however, weren’t buying any of what he was selling, and some even made statements to that effect long before he delivered his speech.

“Tonight we’ll hear yet another speech about a state budget from the Governor, the fourth like it he’s given,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “Since he’s taken office all he’s done is give speeches and run TV ads — and he’s passed zero budgets. Under Governor Rauner today Illinois is dead last in education funding, Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state in the history of the country, and for three years running Illinois is the only state without a budget. Talk is cheap. Actions matter.”

“Rauner has done everything in his power to divide, not unite,” said State Senator Melinda Bush in a press release. “With just 11 days left in the fiscal year, the governor is calling for unity while running attack ads on Democratic legislators? It's absurd. The Senate Democrats already did the hard work of passing a balanced budget with the non-budgetary reforms the governor demanded and he still refuses to end the impasse.”

Read the full article...

Category: In The News

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