Funding change could cost local school districts

Area State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) voted against a General Assembly veto override of Senate Bill 444 on Jan. 31, saying it will cost school districts in his legislative district tier funding dollars.

The impact will be minimal for Piatt County schools, with the largest one being a projected $4,234 decrease in funding annually for the Cerro Gordo district.

Tier funding was approved as part of the education funding reform approved last summer. An amendment to that law which shifts an estimated $45.5 million from downstate to Chicago Public Schools was vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner, but the state House and Senate overrode that veto last week.

“Once again, Chicago lawmakers prove why no one should work with them or listen to them because we are not even two months into the landmark new school funding reform law, and they come around demanding more money for their schools,” said Rose. “I don’t represent Chicago Public Schools. I represent Central Illinois. This bill is taking money away from our school kids. I vote ‘no.’ Local citizens need to remember this vote.”

The Monticello school district receives little general state aid due to its reliance on real estate property taxes and Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax proceeds, but is one of the few in the area that could see a positive change due to the override. But the projected change is just $46.

“It’s a great day to be a winner in the school funding formula. Plus $46,” quipped Monticello Superintendent Vic Zimmerman, playing off of the unofficial district slogan, “it’s a great day to be a Sage.”

Bement Superinten-dent Sheila Greenwood noted that no new dollars have come to school districts since the funding formula changed, and she doesn’t expect any new dollars soon. And that could result in more amendments.

“We haven’t seen any new money yet and won’t for months. A lot can happen in our state government in that time as we all know,” she said.

Piatt County school districts will see the following projected tier funding changes as a result of last week’s action in Springfield:

–Arthur –$3,569

–Bement –$962

–Blue Ridge –$2,269

–Cerro Gordo –$4,234

–DeLand-Weldon –$7

–Monticello +$46

Senate Bill 444 made technical changes to the evidenced-based school funding law that dealt with how Equalized Assessed Valuation is calculated in the formula.

The biggest loser in Rose’s 51st district would be Decatur Public Schools, which could lose a projected $612,000 in school funding.

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