Tori Grove mugshot

By Bob Balgemann


BOONE COUNTY – Tori Grove graduated from Belvidere North High School and Rock Valley College in 2015 through the Running Start Program.

Last summer, she was part of the legislative internship program sponsored by state Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford.

He sponsors such a program each summer, he said, to provide interns “with the opportunity to experience state legislative work and participate in community outreach events.”

As such, Grove has written a guest article for Sosnowski’s newsletter, addressing Senate Bill 231, dealing with the state school funding formula. The legislation has passed the Senate and currently is pending in the House of Representatives.

Sen. Andy Manar (D-48) proposed the bill earlier this month. Under the measure, she said schools in less wealthy taxing districts would receive more funding than others.

Here are her thoughts on the proposal:

“At a glance, this seems like a great plan, but there are some kinks that do not make sense to me. It is reasonable to ensure that students receive the same access to education funds; however, school districts that are being considered property tax ‘wealthy’ really aren’t wealthy school districts. A majority of these districts … face the same operational and funding struggles as those receiving increased education funds,” Grove wrote.

“This legislation does not only affect school districts in the suburbs, it affects districts right here including Belvidere, North Boone, and Kinnikinnick. I went to school in the Belvidere School District (100) and I would by no means say our schools were overflowing with extra money. In fact, it always seemed like there was never enough money to go around,” Grove continued.

“My mother teaches in the North Boone School District (200) and I can’t even believe that they would be able to adequately educate students, having over $87,000 cut from their budget. However, that seems like nothing compared to the over $1 million Kinnikinnick will face in reductions of SB 231 is enacted.”

In Grove’s opinion she stated that the bill “is choosing favorites; it is choosing Chicago schools and that is not okay when it comes to education for all Illinois children.”

She stated further that Sen. Jason Barickman (R-53) sent a letter to members of the General Assembly laying out a plan to merge some of the ideas from SB 231 with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to fully fund the existing formula.

“I personally think the existing formula should be fully funded at its current rate of $6,119 per student and then we will be able to see where there is still a need and properly address the matter.”

In conclusion, she wrote, “Something needs to be done other than taking large amounts of money from one school district and giving it to another.”

SB 231 passed the Senate earlier this month, 71-31, with Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, who represents all of Boone County, voting no.

The 2016 legislative session is due to adjourn May 31.

Tori Grove currently attends the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and expects to graduate in 2017 with a major in communications and a minor in leadership studies.

She plans to return to Sosnowski’s office this summer as a senior intern.

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