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Illinois Governor Proposes Panel to Review School Funding

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed the creation of a new commission to review the state's school funding formula and come up with ideas to fix it by Feb. 1.

Rauner's announcement Tuesday was sort of an about face for the Republican governor, who spent a good portion of the last fiscal year sparring with Democrats and representatives from low-income school districts who called for changes to the state's school funding formula.

Districts in towns with low property values have argued that the state's school funding formula shortchanges low-income students because those districts are unable to lean on property taxes to raise additional money.

Fifteen school superintendents wrote the governor in June amid a protracted budget impasse, asking him to change what they called a broken and inequitable funding system. Superintendents from Chicago Public Schools, Peoria Public Schools, West Aurora School District 129, Granite City Community School District, and East Moline School District all signed the letter.

Will anything emerge from this new commission?

The Chicago Tribune struck a realistic note. For one, the deadline for coming up with some sort of fix is in February—long after the November elections when many state legislators are up for re-election, the paper said. 

And then there is this, according to the Tribune: 

"In politics, commissions, task forces and advisory panels are where the state's most vexing problems go to languish because they're often used as tools to delay action on touchy topics or provide cover for the handling of controversial issues."

Illinois' education secretary Beth Purvis is expected to lead the 25-member bi-partisan panel, which will include members from Rauner's administration and five appointees each by the Republican and Democratic caucuses, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. 

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