Dist. 220 superintendent waging battle against state funding cuts

  • Brian Harris

    Brian Harris

 
 
Updated 10/16/2014 6:27 PM

The new superintendent of Barrington Area Unit School District 220 is raising the alarm against a proposed state measure he claims would cost his district more funding than any other in Lake County.

Superintendent Brian Harris said if Senate Bill 16 is approved as written, his district would lose $5.4 million annually, which is 49 percent of their state funding.

 

The bill, which passed the state Senate and is now before the state House, would change the state funding formula to give more money to less affluent districts. Though some suburban districts would benefit from the change, many would lose millions.

Harris said he believes the plan is a bad solution because all it does is redistribute current state funds, which he considers inadequate either way.

"The bottom line is that the state is not fulfilling their constitutional responsibility to fund education," he said. "(Senate Bill 16) isn't getting to the root of the problem. It is just shuffling the deck chairs."

Harris said the state needs to fix the funding formula so every school district is able to provide an adequate amount per student.

District 220 spends a little over $14,000 per student, which is more than both the state average of $12,015, and the national average of $10,608, according to U.S. census data released in May.

Harris said the district's funding is a reflection of the community's commitment to education, and the district's high-performing students are a result of that.

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"Yes, we have sufficient funding here, but you can't just do the bait and switch and cut it out from underneath us," he said.

Harris has lobbied against Senate Bill 16 several times since being named superintendent in August.

Next Friday, the district is hosting a legislative breakfast with about a dozen local lawmakers at Barrington High School to discuss the measure and other issues facing the district.

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