School funding reform proposal shows good results

Legislation that would fund Illinois schools in a more equitable way show good results for school districts under a simulation by the ISBE, which forecasts that school districts across the state would receive either the same amount of funding they are receiving now or more under the legislation.

Senate Bill 1124, an evidence-based school funding model being pushed by Senate Republicans, would send more than a half-billion dollars in funding to school districts and doesn’t require an increase in state funding. The legislation is modeled after the framework put forward by the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, a group of bipartisan lawmakers tasked with offering solutions to fix Illinois’ current school funding system.

The evidence-based approach uses 27 different variables to set individual adequacy targets for each school district, based on the real costs of the districts, accepted best practices, and student demographics. Districts would be grouped into four Tiers based on how far they are from their adequacy target, with Tier 1 including the schools needing the most help, up to Tier 4, which contains the schools that already meet or exceed their adequacy targets.

For example, schools in Tier 1 would gain $445 million and those in Tier 2 would gain $50.7 million.

While the legislation removes the Chicago Block Grant for Chicago Public Schools (CPS), it is tied to another piece of legislation where the state would pick up CPS’ pension costs, something the state currently does not pay, unlike the rest of school districts in Illinois.

A breakdown of what each school district would see under Senate Bill 1124 can be found here.

Jil Tracy

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