CHICAGO, April 5 A group of public school
districts sued Illinois on Wednesday, claiming the state was not
providing adequate funding for them to comply with
state-mandated learning standards.
The lawsuit filed by 17 districts in St. Clair County
Circuit Court follows litigation brought by the Chicago Public
Schools last month in Cook County Court claiming the state's
method of funding education discriminates against Chicago's
largely black and Hispanic student body.
The latest lawsuit seeks to require Illinois to use
evidence-based methodology to calculate the additional per-pupil
state funding necessary for the districts to meet the learning
standards first adopted in 1997. Illinois would then be required
to provide that funding to the schools, which said they have
been forced to raise property taxes, increase classroom sizes
and lay off teachers due to insufficient state money.
Michael Persoon, the districts' legal counsel, said the
schools want to keep the standards, which are good for students.
"But the state can't put all that burden to pay for it on
(the districts)," he told reporters at a state capitol news
Illinois Secretary of Education Dr. Beth Purvis said
Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has boosted education funding
by $700 million since 2015. While state officials in recent
months have taken up the task of revamping the way Illinois
funds schools, no consensus has emerged in the
School funding has been a politically volatile subject in
Illinois for decades, pitting low property tax-generating school
systems or those with mostly minority students against
well-funded systems in wealthy Chicago suburbs much less reliant
on state funding.
Since the 1970s, the sides have played to a political
stalemate in the state legislature, which has rejected efforts
at a statewide fix to solve the disparity between the haves and
have-nots in Illinois education.
(Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Matthew Lewis)