Illinois school districts suing state for lack of funding - KMOV.com

Illinois school districts suing state for lack of funding

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

17 school districts in Illinois filed a lawsuit against the state and Governor Bruce Rauner Wednesday morning in St. Clair County.

Four districts in the St. Louis Metro area are part of it, including Bethalto, Cahokia, Hartford-Wood River and Grant.

The districts believe the state's budget problems are hurting students. They're asking the governor to change what they call an "unconstitutional" funding system.

"I share their frustration, our education funding system is broken," said Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. "It's not clear to me that it's unconstitutional, I think it's constitutional, but it's not fair."

The state of Illinois has been operating without a budget and has cut close to 11 percent of general school funding in the past few years.

"We're to the point where we've got to get the money flowing," said Grant School District Superintendent Matt Stines. "As the board and I discussed the lawsuit, we said best case, the lawsuit may push legislators to act and we'll see money start to flow."

Stines says the lack of funding from the state has forced his administration to make tough cuts in recent years.

"We've had to make cuts to programs that are valuable to kids. We've increased class sizes, we've cut art, music, band, all the stuff that provided an enriched education."

The districts involved argue that the state should calculate what it costs per student to meet specific Illinois learning standards and then provide the proper amount needed, particularly to low-income schools.

"Illinois has been the worst state for funding schools for decades," said Governor Rauner. "Our goal is to increase state support every year and put more and more money into low-income districts,"

Governor Rauner admits his plan won't be an immediate fix to funding issues for low-income districts, but he feels it's better than what the state's currently doing.

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