Pritchard's concerns not enough to derail bill to boost funds to dropout-prone districts
Rep. Robert Pritchard’s (R-Hinckley) request to table a measure to provide extra funding for school districts with an unusually high number of high school dropout rates fell on deaf ears on Wednesday.
Pritchard argued that Senate Bill 446 needed more discussion before being put to a vote.
“I think it is in the interest of good legislation to try to craft the best [bill] that we have,” Pritchard said. “So the request in committee -- and the request in here -- is won’t you hold this until we know some of the programs and then, during the summer or fall veto session, we can come back and deal with these issues?”
The bill, presented to the House by Rep. Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago), would provide schools experiencing twice the state average dropout rate with twice the funding relative to the Foundation Level, which is typically $6,119.
Pritchard argued that the bill is “an increase in funding in a program where we are already investing in truancy, re-enrollment and alternative schools.”
His objections were echoed by many of his Republican colleagues, including Rep. Steven Andersson (R-Geneva), who contended that Illinois can’t afford this bill.
“We’re broke,” Andersson said. “We can’t fund our schools right now. We did a stop-gap budget last year, and that hasn’t really paid all the categoricals.”
While Pritchard acknowledged the dropout problems schools face, he reiterated Andersson’s concerns, agreeing that the bill should be withdrawn for discussions.
“We have an issue where we need to try to keep kids in schools, and we need to deal with alternative schools, but we don’t have the funding to do this now, and we don’t have a model that fits in to the new evidence-based funding,” Pritchard said. “This is premature, and I think that we should hold this bill and deal with it later this year when we know the answer to some of these questions.”
SB446 passed the House 60-55.