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Simon pushes for much-needed education funding reforms 

 
CARBONDALE – April 25, 2014. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon hosted a briefing with state Senator Andy Manar (D–Bunker Hill) today to gather local support for meaningful school funding reform legislation at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center in Carbondale. Backed by Simon and sponsored by Manar, Senate Bill 16 aims to benefit rural students as well as other areas with smaller tax bases by streamlining the outdated current system and making funding more equitable.

“This legislation updates an outdated and unfair funding system,” said Simon. “Every child in Illinois deserves access to a high-quality education. I am thrilled to join Sen. Manar and look forward to working with the General Assembly and governor to pass this important legislation.”

"Illinois' current school funding system is failing both students and taxpayers," Manar said. "And unless we make a change, we will continue to see the disparity among schools increase. The Lt. Governor has been a leader on education reform and I want to thank her for being the first statewide office holder to endorse the initiative."

Earlier this year, a bipartisan State Senate committee, created by Manar and State Sen. David Luechtefeld (R-Okawville), issued a report acknowledging Illinois’ outdated school funding system and recommending changes be made to the system to better reflect student needs. Recently, Manar, along with other Illinois Senate Democrats, introduced the School Funding Reform Act of 2014, a proposal to streamline the complicated funding system into one formula that would account for school districts’ funding needs while also encouraging the development of dual credit programs throughout the state.

Previously, Simon visited John A. Logan College to talk to students and promote the need to incentivize dual credit programs in Illinois. Under Senate Bill 16, local school districts would receive new funding to encourage students to earn college credit while still in high school. This allows a student to get a jumpstart on a college credential or degree for free. Dual credit courses are vital for students in small, rural or low-income districts that do not have the resources to provide Advanced Placement or other specialized college-prep courses, Simon said.

Simon serves as the state's point person on education reform. In this capacity, Simon is working to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent by 2025. As chair of the 25-member Governor's Rural Affairs Council, Simon is also working to improve the delivery of state services and education opportunities to rural Illinois.