Letters to the Editor

Guest view: Our area school districts need SB 231 for financial stability

As the superintendent of the Granite City schools, I would like to clarify a few things in the recent article by Brian Brueggemann, on the analysis of the impact of Senate Bill 231. This bill currently is awaiting vote in the House.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) provided a report which showed our children in Granite City lost $468 per student. For my neighbors further south it was far worse — Cahokia lost $1,044, and East St. Louis lost $1,092 per student. Imagine what that amount of loss means to students and teachers in the classroom?

In that same year, the Edwardsville school district lost $124 per student. However, the Edwardsville school district has the most local wealth of any district in Madison County, with the smallest rate of low-income students at 20 percent.

Some things changed going into this school year. First, ISBE cut all budgets by 8 percent as opposed to 13 percent because the General Assembly needed more money to the K-12 education budget around $110 million. This still would’ve caused the poorest districts to lose much more than every other district, an average cut of roughly $600 per student. The Illinois General Assembly recognizing the problem with the broken funding formula, created a new grant of $85 million into the K-12 budget to go to the poorest districts.

The General Assembly passed, and the governor signed that education budget into law. That meant for school districts they all lost less money, but it was a short-term fix that could not change the funding formula, which didn’t fix the underlying inequity. Senate Bill 231 provides in adequacy grant for school districts such as Edwardsville. Under this provision, they would not lose money for at least seven years, possibly longer.

I would suggest school districts in better financial situations to closely examine the school districts such as Granite City, Cahokia, Collinsville and East St. Louis, which have more students in poverty and a chronically underfunded budget. I am very pleased and thankful for the support of Senate Bill 231 by Sen. Andy Manar, Sen. William Haine, and Sen. James Clayborne Jr. I encourage our local state representatives to be supportive of this bill, which will improve education and resources for our students.

Jim Greenwald is the superintendent of schools for Granite City Community Unit District 9.