House 66th District candidates talk education funding
Candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the House 66th District Tuesday say they support changing the state's decades-old education funding formula to be more equitable toward suburban school districts.
Carolyn Schofield, Allen Skillicorn and Dan Wilbrandt want the two-year seat being vacated by incumbent Republican Mike Tryon, who is not seeking another term.
Paul Serwatka, 47, a Lakewood village trustee, has dropped out of the race, but his name will appear on the ballot.
Lawmakers have debated for decades how Illinois pays for schools, trying to find a way to send more money to downstate and Chicago schools that often have less property wealth and spend less per student than in the suburbs.
Schofield, 43, a McHenry County Board member, said past education funding reform proposals pitted school districts against one another.
"Out in the suburbs, we have had referendums numerous times," she said. "Communities that have had successful voter-led referendums to boost school funding should not be penalized for that community choice. We need to protect those choices that we've made. We need to find a formula to protect everybody and not pit Chicago against the suburbs."
Schofield said she supports realigning assessments statewide so Cook County, where property is assessed at 10 percent of equalized assessed value, would be treated the same as the rest of the state, which is assessed at 33 percent.
Skillicorn, 41, an East Dundee village trustee, supports getting rid of unfunded mandates and giving local school districts the option of getting out of the state pension system and more control over negotiating teachers contracts with respect to retirements and health insurance.
"The system is already rigged to favor Chicago," he said. "We can't have fair and equitable funding unless we add accountability to it."
Wilbrandt, a West Dundee trustee and assistant state's attorney in McHenry County, said 70 cents of every education $1 goes toward pension and retirement costs rather than educating students.
"The state must enact pension reform and localize tax dollars so that the education revenues can directly impact local students," he said.
He added, the funding formula has too many loopholes that allow school districts to make themselves appear more in need by underreporting local property wealth.
The primary winner will face Democrat Nancy Zettler of Algonquin in November. The district includes portions of McHenry and Kane counties, including Algonquin, Carpentersville, Crystal Lake, East Dundee, Elgin, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Lakewood, Sleepy Hollow and West Dundee.