Support for Rauner's school mandate relief plan grows

Many suburban and Downstate school superintendents are issuing statements of support for the push, led by Governor Rauner, to eliminate some of the more than 100 unfunded mandates imposed by Springfield on local school districts and their taxpayers. For example, last week St. Clair County Regional Superintendent of Schools Susan Sarfaty agreed that these unfunded mandates are costing her schools money not provided for in these districts’ property-tax-funded budgets.

Unfunded mandates targeted by the Rauner push include required drivers’ education, for which schools are supposed to be reimbursed by fees paid by pupils but often are not; daily physical education; and restrictions on school districts contracting out needed non-educational services, such as janitorial work, to the private sector. The Rauner “Turnaround Illinois” property tax relief measure, sponsored by House Republican leadership in the General Assembly as HB 4247, includes language specifically aimed at repealing barriers to use of third-party contractors for budget savings. House Democrats have so far failed to release HB 4247 from the Rules Committee for discussion and debate.