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Dusty Rhodes

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Al Bowman, a former president of Illinois State University, has been tapped to lead the Illinois Board of Higher Education. His appointment comes as higher education institutions have seen their budgets slashed and enrollment decline, so it’s hard to know whether to congratulate him.

“You know, I’ve been getting that from people,” Bowman laughs.

He is going into his new job eyes wide open. Illinois ranked number two in the nation for net loss of college students.

An Illinois lawmaker is calling on Facebook to ensure political ads are fundamentally factual, after learning the social media giant has no such guidelines.

The debate over school funding dominated much of the legislative session, and concluded with a compromise plan designed to send more state funds to the neediest districts. But so far, those districts haven't gotten any extra funds.

Illinois’ new school funding plan — approved in August and hailed as a historic change — relies on the legislature to give every school the same state aid it got last year, plus push another $350 million through a new formula. That $350 million is crucial because it’s the part designed to address the inequity that has plagued Illinois schools for decades.

 

State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, a Democrat from Shorewood, wants to make sure lawmakers don't skip that step.

Gov. Bruce Rauner took sort of a victory lap visiting a Catholic school, a traditional public school and a charter school to celebrate the Illinois General Assembly's approval of a historic school funding overhaul.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been drumming up opposition to the Democrats' new school funding plan, known as Senate Bill 1, by touting how much more money each district would receive under his plan. He points to Elgin U-46, the state’s second largest school district, as the biggest winner: That northwest suburban district would gain about $15 million if lawmakers approve Rauner’s amendatory veto.

So that district's CEO, Tony Sanders, must be rooting for Rauner's plan, right?

 

Wrong.

Carter Staley/NPR Illinois

Between a new state pension plan and Governor Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of the Democrats' school funding plan, some school districts would be in for a big hit in July 2020. The two changes would have a particularly significant impact on districts with high rates of teacher turnover and declining enrollment.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

Illinois school districts are due to receive state funds Aug. 10, but that can't happen until lawmakers either override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of Senate Bill 1 or come up with some other plan he will sign.

The future of state funding for Illinois schools is still up in the air Monday afternoon. The fight over Senate Bill 1 — legislation that would overhaul the way Illinois supports k-12 schools — has such high stakes and such slim vote margins that it has turned into a parliamentary chess game. Now, the next move belongs to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling lawmakers back from their summer vacation to deal with a new school funding plan in special session starting Wednesday. The issue has turned into a showdown between the Republican governor and the Democrat-controlled legislature, with the fate of k-12 school children in the balance.

Lawmakers of both parties -- and even Gov. Bruce Rauner -- agree that Illinois doesn't fund schools in an equitable manner.

Two school funding plans progressed in the Illinois legislature Wednesday. A plan sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar was approved in the Senate, while in the House, a very similar plan sponsored by Rep. Will Davis made it through committee. Does that mean lawmakers may have finally found a way to cure the state's infamously unfair school funding structure?

Dusty Rhodes

A Chicago law firm representing a group of mostly rural 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.

Dusty Rhodes

The Grand Bargain is a package of interlocking legislation designed to break the state budget impasse in Illinois. How important is school funding to that deal? Important enough that leaders titled it Senate Bill One.

Courtesy of Jim Melvin

Jim Melvin is finally fulfilling a lifelong dream. He's a rookie in the classroom but a seasoned veteran at real life. At age 59, he's in his first full year of teaching social studies at V.I.T. High School.

During the recent state budget impasse, Illinois colleges and universities have been forced to scrape by without state funding, except for stop gap money designed to keep them open through the fall semester. But that may not satisfy accreditation agencies. James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says the Higher Learning Commission may just home in on the fact that Illinois schools are missing what schools in other states have: a solid budget.

The Illinois legislature adjourned last night with no budget for education -- at any level.

Illinois university presidents were stunned last night as the funding measure they thought would provide the first state funds in almost a year suddenly disappeared.

The budget that Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed yesterday recommends a 16 percent cut to higher education. This year's proposed cut sounds gentler than the 32 percent reduction Rauner recommended last year. But instead of being spread across higher education, virtually all of the pain would fall upon the state's universities.

Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan today announced that he will re-convene hearings on the state’s education funding formula. The state's current formula relies heavily on property taxes, creating a big disparity among schools based on their geographic location. Some districts can spend more than $32,000 per student every year, while others scrape by on a fraction of that amount. 

Top officials of the state board of education declined to appear before a House committee yesterday to answer questions about costly perks being paid to the board’s superintendent, Tony Smith. Smith was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, and receives a stipend on top of his $225,000 salary. 


Governor Bruce Rauner has approved the portion of the state budget earmarked for public schools. His move yesterday ensures schools will be able to open on time.

The legislation even increases funding for education by more than $200 million dollars over the previous year. But the new money has strings attached.

Cortlon Cofield

Cortlon Cofield said Thursday nights were always special during his freshman year at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. That’s because Thursdays were "Food for the Soul" night in the Florida Avenue Residence Hall (known as FAR).

Dusty Rhodes

Governor Bruce Rauner was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at a meeting of public school leaders Tuesday in Springfield. Instead, he sent his new education czar.