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updated: 11/17/2010 8:58 PM

U-46 funding bill passes Senate

State Senate overrides veto; now the House must vote

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By Kerry Lester

The state's second-largest school district's fight for a funding fix was formally resurrected Wednesday.

The Senate, by a two-vote margin, moved to override Gov. Pat Quinn's late July veto of the legislation that would give Elgin Area School District U-46 an estimated $22 million in additional state aid this year. It now heads to the House.

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Quinn had vetoed the legislation on the basis that the measure would "boost state aid to one district at the expense of others."

But state Sen. Michael Noland, sponsor of the legislation, told his peers on the chamber floor that their school districts wouldn't suffer much from the change because there happens to be $22 million in general state aid that hasn't been allocated to any specific district.

"It has virtually no impact on them," he said.

State Board of Education spokesman Matt Vanover confirmed the $22 million, which he said was the result of an overestimation of the amount of general state aid that would be given to schools this year. He said the impact on other districts would be "minimal" this year if both chambers vote to override the governor's veto.

The state's 869 school districts will see a total of $260,000 in general state aid reduction, meaning that some may see a reduction of only a few hundred dollars.

If the $22 million did not go to U-46, Vanover said, the money would "just revert to general revenue."

The issue stems from U-46's locations in three counties Kane, Cook and DuPage and the tax rate estimations that result from the situation.

The legislation would allow the district to stop getting its funding from estimates, slicing the educational funding pie in a more accurate way.

The vote drew support and opposition from suburban lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Sen. Pam Althoff, a McHenry Republican, noted her "strong support" for the bill, tying it with an earlier piece of funding legislation that helped Huntley Unit District 158.

And yet Sen. Chris Lauzen, an Aurora Republican, suggested it "must affect other districts."

Noland says he believes the legislation will have "an easier ride" in the House, because of a stronger Democratic presence there.

Elgin Area School District U-46 spokesman Tony Sanders, who traveled down to Springfield for the vote, said he appreciated the work of Noland and co-sponsor Sen. John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican.

"We're hopeful it will continue in the House," Sanders said.

It wasn't immediately clear Wednesday night when the House would take up the issue.

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