The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 4, 2012

Lawmakers must fix school funding


DANVILLE — The state of Illinois is stealing your children’s money for school to the tune of millions of dollars. Perhaps stealing is too harsh a word, but the result ends up the same.

Area school districts continue to struggle to craft budgets for the coming year with the state failing to live up to its obligations.

In Danville’s District 128 alone, the state is $2 million behind in payments it agreed to make.

That shortfall is causing school administrators to consider changing transportation schedules — as officials in Georgetown-Ridge Farm did recently — or cut staff, as District 118 has done.

In all cases, the cash shortage hurts children the most.

For more than two decades, some lawmakers in Springfield tried to persuade the General Assembly to change its school funding formula. The effort focused on moving funding away from local property taxes on onto another source, such as sales taxes.

The efforts met with little support, and now that lack of action is coming back to haunt state officials.

If education is the key to the state’s success in years to come as experts say it is, this issue should be of the first priority for the next session of the General Assembly.

There’s a lawsuit just starting to make its way through the courts in an attempt to force the state to live up to its obligations, but its outlook is bleak.

It’s time for lawmakers to make difficult decisions and push Illinois schools to the top of the national list in quality by living up to their promises.