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The Latest: Illinois Senate approves school funding overhaul

Posted August 29

— The Latest on Illinois lawmakers' efforts to approve a school funding overhaul (all times local):

2:05 p.m.

The Illinois Senate has approved a new system for funding schools that will reduce large disparities between wealthy and poor districts.

Legislators voted 38-13 on Tuesday to approve the plan that passed the House on Monday. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he'll sign the bill quickly to get state money to more than 800 districts that have been waiting for funding for the new school year.

Lawmakers have tried for decades to overhaul a school funding formula that's considered the least equitable in the U.S.

The new plan provides more money to all school districts. It also provides $75 million for a tax credit for people who donated to private school scholarships. That drew criticism from teacher unions, some school officials and lawmakers.

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1:05 p.m.

School superintendents across Illinois are giving a proposed school funding overhaul mixed reviews.

The plan that will increase aid to all of the state's districts also includes a proposal to give tax credits to people who donate to private school scholarships. The Illinois House has approved the plan, which the Senate is poised to consider Tuesday.

Superintendent Edwin Shoemate runs a roughly 515-student district in the southern Illinois community of Cobden. He says he's enthusiastic about the bipartisan compromise and his district will get roughly $180,000 more under the proposal. That means roughly three more teachers and reinstating art for elementary schools.

However, he and other superintendents don't like the private school tax-credit program.

Superintendent Andrea Evers in downstate Cairo, which has roughly 400 students, says talk of private school scholarship strays from the mission of addressing a public-school funding problem.

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1 a.m.

The Illinois Senate is expected to take up a school funding overhaul that will increase aid to all of the state's more than 800 districts.

Lawmakers are set to convene Tuesday to vote on the measure, which the Illinois House approved late Monday. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he'll sign the bill.

Supporters have called the legislation "historic" because it will reduce huge disparities in per-student funding between districts. The measure also provides $75 million for tax credits for people who contributed to private school scholarships.

Teacher unions opposed the credits, saying taxpayer money shouldn't be used toward private schools.

But even some legislators who initially opposed the measure changed to "yes" votes late Monday. They feared that without another funding plan available, schools would run out of money.

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