Seventeen school superintendents sued the state of Illinois Wednesday. They're asking Governor Bruce Rauner and the state board of education to come up with a funding formula that would help schools meet the state's learning standards.
Between Illinois' notoriously inequitable funding formula and years of reduced state spending … the superintendents say the lawsuit is their last resort. Consider Cahokia. It’s cut staff to the point that even kindergarten classes have up to 30 students (double the recommended ratio) and residents pay a 13 percent property tax, about four times the state average. Superintendent Art Ryan says repairing buildings is out of the question. "Our high school needs approximately $20-$25 million worth of repairs that we have no idea where that potentially is going to come from."
Staunton District Superintendent Dan Cox says school leaders are taking steps to be as efficient as possible, despite state budget cuts and implementing state mandated learning standards.
"The state has expected teachers and students to meet newly heightened standards without allocating any additional funding. So, our staff has to navigate changing curriculum without the appropriate resources to do so. This is the opposite of best practice. It's as if we've been using duct tape and super glue to prevent our system from collapsing altogether."
Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic General Assembly have increased school funding to historically high levels, but the plaintiffs say pouring more money into an inequitable formula doesn't help their schools.