After months of contentious debate over public school funding in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a compromise education funding bill that aims to distribute state aid more equitably to school districts.
WMAQ-TV reports that Rauner, surrounded by students at Ebinger Elementary School in Chicago, signed the legislation just days after the Illinois Senate and House passed the agreement.
The law moves Illinois to an "evidence-based model" of education funding that takes into account each district’s individual needs, as well as its local revenue sources, when appropriating state aid.
Because the law had not yet been approved, the state did not have authority to disburse funding to K-12 districts, and school systems across Illinois did not receive expected payments during August—an estimated $540 million.
After the Senate vote earlier this week, Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza said she would release the frozen funding for the month of August as soon as the governor signs the bill.
The revised funding formula will benefit the financially struggling Chicago Public Schools, the nation's third-largest district, DNAinfo Chicago reports.
District officials say the system will receive an additional:
• $221 million toward employee pensions
• An additional $76 million for schools with a high percentage of low-income students
• $18.5 million for early education programs
• $13 million for bilingual education programs
Chicago will lose $4 million from other programs under a variety of changes approved as part of the state budget, officials say.
In addition, the legislation allows the Chicago school board to generate $125 million by hiking property taxes.