illinois Legislature WLS-TV
The Illinois House has voted down school finance legislation.

Leaders in Illinois say they've reached agreement on school funding

Without an approved funding formula in place, the state's public schools would soon run out of money.

The governor and legislative leaders in Illinois say they’ve reached agreement on a major revamping of the state's school funding formula.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the tentative deal, which still must be approved by lawmakers, is designed to provide more money to the state’s poorest districts without taking money away from the rest. It also provides $75 million in publicly funded tax credits for private school scholarships.

The state legislature had approved a revised funding formula aimed at reducing disparities in per-student funding that existed between wealthy and poor districts. But Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill because he believed it allocated too much money to Chicago Public Schools. The state senate overrode the veto; legislative leaders negotiated an agreement on a revised bill when it became evident that there were not enough votes in state house to override the veto.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel indicated that the new deal would provide the Chicago school system the same benefits as the bill that Rauner had vetoed. Emanuel says the agreement means the state "is finally being fair."

City officials have argued that the funding of teacher pensions is unfair to Chicago because the state pays pension costs for all downstate and suburban districts, but not the city. 

DNAinfo Chicago reports that the city schools will receive the $300 million in additional state funds the district's budget counted on to make ends meet for the school year set to start Sept. 5.

Chicago students will no longer be treated as "second-class citizens," Emanuel says. "That clear benchmark has been set."

The part of the agreement that provides tax credits for private schools has drawn the ire of the Chicago Teachers Union.

The program "will do nothing for the long-term sustainability of Chicago Public Schools budgets, and will instead drain resources from schools and further push students out of the district," the union asserts.

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