- Published: 08 March 2017
State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) advanced legislation through committee today that will protect federal funding for the Rockford public school district.
The measure would ensure federal funds meant for Title 1 programs go to help low-income children rather than paying into teachers’ pensions and could free up millions of federal dollars for Rockford public schools.
“Right now, school districts are being required to use federal funds that are meant to go to students to pay down the state’s pension debt,” Stadelman said. “This disproportionately affects at-risk students in the districts that need help the most.”
Dr. Ehren Jarrett, Rockford Public Schools Superintendent, testified in favor of the legislation.
“What we’re advocating for is to let those federal dollars go to what the teachers and the principals in those schools say they need most, which is support for struggling students,” Jarrett said. “This is an opportunity for equity for those schools.”
The legislation would allow school districts to pay into federally funded teachers’ pensions at the same rate as all other teachers, cutting the districts’ contribution rate from 45 percent to 7 percent. Individual teachers’ pensions would not be affected.
SB 195 passed overwhelmingly in the Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions committee and will be reported favorably to the floor for consideration.