SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois school districts will receive about $395 million in additional funding that was approved in the state budget last summer.
The Illinois State Board of Education sent vouchers Thursday to the comptroller's office, which will handle distributing the additional money to more than 800 school districts.
Streator's two districts stand to gain the most in La Salle County. Streator High School will receive $658,276 extra cash and Streator Elementary will get $481,256 more.
In Ottawa, the elementary district will receive $319,408 more and Ottawa High School $256,513.
Chicago Public Schools will receive an extra $60 million.
“I believe this marks the beginning of a new era for how we fund schools," said Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, whose district includes Livingston County. "The distribution of these funds is the result of the years of hard work from lawmakers and members of the education community toward creating an adequate and equitable system of distributing funds to schools."
Comptroller Susana Mendoza's office said it's already made preparations for the additional payments to be made once they're approved by the board. They'll go out at the same time as regular state aid payments on the 10th and 20th of each month.
The additional payments will start next week and continue to June. The appropriations originate from the state's new evidence-based funding formula intended to provide a more equitable funding structure.
"Many people have spent many years of their lives advocating for this change, so today is the first day of a system that will undoubtedly serve children better," Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said Thursday.
Lawmakers will have to increase K-12 spending each year over the next decade for the funding formula to have its maximum effect.
“We still have much work to do," Barickman said. "We need to get the Professional Review Panel, which is required by the new funding law, up and running so that we can study how effective the new formula is at meeting its goals. Lawmakers as a whole also need to remain committed to appropriating the necessary funding to make the new formula work."
The board recommended a $7.2 billion increase in its budget, saying it's important to show what kind of funding commitment is needed to ensure each school district has adequate resources to educate its students.
Manar said ensuring that the system gets adequate funding will be the key issue going forward.
BY THE NUMBERS (Final Tier Funding, new money)
Allen-Otter Creek (Ransom): $126
Deer Park: $121
Grand Ridge: $314
La Salle Elementary: $317,585
La Salle-Peru High School: $163,340
Mendota Elementary: $114,646
Mendota High School: $143,434
Miller (Milton Pope): $5,290
Newark High School: $279
Newark Elementary: $7,033
Ottawa Elementary: $319,408
Ottawa High School: $256,513
Peru Elementary: $41,635
Sandwich Unit: $187,551
Seneca Elementary: $601
Seneca High School: $650
Streator High School: $658,276
Streator Elementary: $481,256
Unit 2 (Serena): $957