Tracy: Compromise school funding proposal will boost equitability for all Illinois school districts
Extensive analysis by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) of the recent compromise school funding reform legislation cosponsored by State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy), has found that under the proposal, all 852 Illinois school districts would receive more funding and benefit from a more equitable system than under any previous proposal.
“Every student in Illinois is a priority, and that is what our school funding system should reflect,” said Tracy. “Senate Bill 1124 is a true compromise that incorporates priorities of lawmakers representing both parties and chambers to address school districts’ financial need while also increasing the equitability of our funding system, so schools are funded properly and students all over Illinois are treated more fairly. With the approval of this proposal, we’ll be one step closer to solving the school funding puzzle.”
The legislation is more equitable than any other proposal, and according to the data provided from ISBE (highlighted in the table below), Senate Bill 1124 Amendment 3 would do a better job of delivering financial help to low-income students than previous legislation advanced by the General Assembly, including Senate Bill 1. In fact, though proponents of SB1 have touted financial increases for schools through tier funding, the ISBE analysis clearly shows that the 47th District and every school district in the state would receive more tier funding under Senate Bill 1124 as amended.
A major difference between Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 and Senate Bill 1 is how Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are treated. Both bills use the same system to establish the base funding minimum for schools, which ensures that no school would lose money. However, Democrats added hundreds of millions of dollars to the base funding minimum for CPS, money that no other school would have access to.
Governor Rauner has promised to veto SB1, referring to the massive windfall for CPS as a “bailout.” Rauner made it clear however, that he would sign SB1124 due to its more equitable and fair method for funding all schools.
“Our school funding reform proposal has the greatest chance of becoming law, having already gained full public support from Governor Rauner,” said Tracy. “I urge my colleagues to carefully review Senate Bill 1124 and help us to pass a good-faith school funding bill, so our schools can start off the new year fully-funded and more fairly-funded.”
SB1124 represents bipartisan agreement on several other issues, using the same evidence-based model that relies on 27 different sets of data, along with nationally accepted best practices for school funding, to determine how to deliver dollars where they are needed most. In addition, the two bills use similar methods for determining certain criteria, including directing funding to low-income students and determining different costs between different parts of the state.
The full ISBE analysis for both bills is available at https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Education-Funding-Proposals.aspx.
Tracy said she remains hopeful that the Senate will urgently take up SB1124 during the special session, which began on June 21.