Illinois School funding formula

I should begin with a word of warning: This story contains several F-words -- and by that, I mean facts, figures and school funding formulas. These have been known to befuddle the very state officials in charge of understanding this stuff. For example, here’s Curt Bradshaw, a third-year member of the Illinois State Board of Education (commonly referred to as ISBE), thinking out loud at their last board meeting: 

Illinois already ranked last in the nation in state support for public schools. Cuts announced this week will just make a bad situation worse. But some pending legislation could bring more money to Springfield public schools.

WUIS Education Desk logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

 Illinois' longtime House speaker is forming a bipartisan task force to examine a way to fix the state's  school funding formula.  

Michael J. Madigan's office announced Thursday the panel would include lawmakers from various regions of the state. It's scheduled to meet for the first time next Wednesday in Springfield.  

The last major school funding formula overhaul took place in 1997. While there's wide agreement the current formula doesn't effectively distribute state dollars to students across the state, how it should be changed remains under debate.  

courtesy of Mt. Carmel High School

Rehearsing her students for the big spring musical, Kim Mandrell has crossed two huge worries off her list: She's decided not to have Mary Poppins fly - and this year, for the first time ever, she doesn't have to fret about the safety of the audience.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

One of the few areas not threatened with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget ax today was public school education. But at a conference of school leaders, reaction was lukewarm. 

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Dusty Rhodes

 

Senator Andy Manar has reintroduced a measure proposing to change the way schools are funded in Illinois. This time, it has new formulas, and a request for more money. 

Like the version debated last session, which passed the Senate but stalled in the House, this formula would give more money to districts with low property values and high rates of poverty. At a press conference on Tuesday, Representative Sue Scherer, a Democrat  from Decatur and a former teacher, talked about the inequity from personal experience.

Dusty Rhodes

The House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education held a lengthy hearing this week on a bill that would drastically change the way Illinois distributes state education funds. Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar of Macoupin County, would send more money to schools where property values are low, while decreasing the amount sent to schools in wealthier Chicago suburbs. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Education funding was among the disagreements between gubernatorial candidates Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner in a debate this week in Chicago.  Meanwhile, spending on political ads continues to increase.

Both of the major party candidates for governor say Illinois should put more money into education. But neither are ready to embrace a controversial plan that would change how state money is distributed to schools.

There's been an uproar in some Chicago suburbs lately, over a proposal that's already passed the Illinois Senate. Under it, many districts there would see cuts in state funding, because they're in wealthier areas.

Manar Gears Up For Fight Over School Funding Change

Sep 29, 2014
Andy Manar headshot
Illinois General Assembley

State lawmakers returning to the capitol for the fall veto session could discuss a change in the state's school funding formula.   But it won't happen without a fight. 

State Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill in Macoupin County, has been pushing for approval of a plan that would provide additional aid to districts with a higher number of students in poverty.

flickr/LizMarie_AK

Nearly 100 organizations are joining together to push
Illinois lawmakers to pass a school funding reform proposal in the spring.
 
 Funding Illinois' Future members include community foundations, civil rights organizations, school officials, and business and education reform groups statewide. All support the passage of a school funding proposal sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill.
 
 The legislation would overhaul Illinois' dated school funding formula, first put in place in 1997. While there's wide agreement that the state's funding

Marilyn Escoe and her children — Kayla, Kyla and Kyle Escoe and Kaleyah Wesley — were homeless until November.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

For Kaleyah Wesley, thoughts of her family’s life in a Chicago homeless shelter made it difficult to focus on school, particularly in math, the subject she found hardest.

The then-sixth-grader woke at 5 a.m. on weekdays to take a pair of trains from the north side Rogers Park shelter to her school in the North Lawndale neighborhood, which is on the west side. She says she had a negative attitude that rubbed off on her three younger siblings.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor Pat Quinn's candidate for lieutenant governor says Republican Bruce Rauner's budget plan would mean bad news for schools in Illinois. Democrat Paul Vallas says Rauner's promises to both put more money into schools while also cutting property taxes is unfeasible.

Vallas says Rauner's plan to roll back the state's income tax to three percent would create a $4 billion hole in Illinois' education budget. Vallas says that translates to nearly 28,000 in teacher layoffs.

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  As students across Illinois begin the new school year their schools are using funds that rely heavily on property tax wealth. But supporters of a new plan say now is the time to change that.

Illinois' school funding formula works like this: school districts collect property taxes from their residents, then depending on how property-wealthy or property-poor an area is, the state pitches in its share. That frequently means poorer districts stay poor because the state can't give enough, and wealthier districts remain wealthy.

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  This November, Illinois voters will be asked whether millionaires ought to pay more in taxes. The plan is being sold as a way to raise money for education. But opponents see more political motives.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the measure at a suburban elementary school on Tuesday.

The so-called "millionaire's tax" would rake an additional three percent off personal income greater than a million dollars ... with that money going exclusively to schools.

montanapublicmedia.org

WUIS is asking the candidates for Springfield mayor to talk about education issues facing the community. Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says he's concerned that most new single family homes in the area are in suburban school districts.   He says an increase in funding for District 186 is probably needed, but says the school board needs to build credibility first.

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Illinois has broken its streak of late grant payments to schools for the first time since 2007.
 
 State Superintendent Christopher Koch praised the news in a letter to school officials dated July 1.  But Koch warned them not to bank on the same thing
happening next year.
 
 Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office says timely payments for specialized grants and programs in 2014 are due to an influx of $1.3 billion in revenues the
state hadn't originally budgeted for.  
 
 Next year's $35.7 billion state budget signed by Gov. Pat Quinn banks on

Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Legislature adjourned its spring session having passed a new state budget and other key measures, but leaving some business undone. Here's a look at what passed and what didn't:  
     BILLS SENT TO GOV. PAT QUINN:  
Budget: A roughly $35.7 billion budget for 2015 keeps funding flat for schools and most state agencies. Majority Democrats acknowledged the budget is ``incomplete'' because it postpones tough votes about whether to slash spending or find new revenue until after November's election.  

flickr/LizMarie_AK

  The Illinois Senate has passed a plan to overhaul the way schools are funded. But the proposal has a long way to go before becoming law.

After months of negotiations and with just four days left on the General Assembly's spring calendar, the measure was deemed "ready for primetime." The plan would direct state funding to more impoverished schools and divert funding from schools in wealthier areas.

Supporters of the plan, like Sen. Mike Noland (D-Elgin) say this would help remedy inequity in school funding.

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  While the state's budget for next year is still in flux, Republicans in the Illinois Senate say they have a new plan that would fully fund public schools. They say it's something that would help schools now, unlike a competing Democratic proposal that's still building support.

Illinois has been shortchanging schools for several years. Instead of funding them at the full amount required by law, they've been cutting — it's at 89 percent this year. That's because mandatory spending on things like health care and pensions has been choking out other priorities.

House Speaker Michael Madigan wants voters to weigh in on his so-called "millionaires' tax" at the November elections.

The referendum would ask if income greater than a million dollars should be taxed an additional three percent, with the money going to schools.

Earlier this year, Madigan tried to put this before voters as a constitutional amendment, but he says there wasn't enough support in the House.

WUIS Education Desk logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

The way schools are funded in Illinois has been getting a lot of attention lately.  The WUIS Education Desk presents a discussion entitled "Transforming Our Schools:  A Panel On Education Funding" held recently in Decatur.   The panel includes State Senator Andy Manar, Warrensburg-Latham Superintendent Kristen Kendrick, Decatur Public Schools Director of Business Affairs Todd Covault, Center for Tax & Budget Accountability Director Ralph Martire and moderators Brian Byers of WSOY & Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS. The event was coordinated with the Education Coalition of Macon County.

flickr/LizMarie_AK

  An Illinois House panel Wednesday signed off on a budget for the state's public school system.

The $13 billion dollar appropriation is almost a billion more than this year's budget, reversing the state's trend of cutting funding for K -12 education.

Listen To State Week - May 9, 2014

May 10, 2014
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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Getting attention is a plan to change  school funding that  would shift a larger share of the state funding to poorer school districts.  And scrutiny of Governor Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative continues.

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  Spring is budgeting time for schools in Illinois. Over the past few years, school officials in poorer districts have had to cut staff and programs in order to balance their checkbooks.

Declining state funding, coupled with decreased property values have resulted in a double-whammy shortfall, especially in districts that aren't property-wealthy to begin with.

Many local school districts would be 'winners' under a plan to overhaul how schools are funded in Illinois. That includes Springfield District 186.

WUIS

Springfield District 186 is endorsing a change in state funding that would benefit the district.  Area Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat, is pushing the idea to re-work how the state doles out money to schools.  Manar says it would provide more equity between wealthy and poor districts.

Springfield public schools would receive nearly 6 percent more under the change. A statement from District 186 says an increase in funding would allow teaching positions to be restored and technology upgrades. It also says it could help avoid future budget cuts.

flickr/LizMarie_AK

  Downstate schools would be the primary winners under a proposed school funding overhaul before the General Assembly. A report from Illinois' board of education could lead to a regional divide when it comes up for a vote.

Illinois' public school system relies heavily on property taxes, often meaning the quality of a student's education will depend on his or her zip code.

But a proposal in the General Assembly would completely change the state's complicated funding formula.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As the Illinois General Assembly girds for what everyone hopes will be the final month of its spring session, the spotlight is on a handful of high-profile issues, topped by crafting a budget for the 2015 Fiscal Year that starts July 1.

Key to budget-making, of course, is whether lawmakers heed Gov. Pat Quinn’s call for keeping in place current income tax rates, now scheduled to roll back on January 1. Allowing the rates to drop dramatically would lead to “extreme and radical cuts” in education and other core state services, the governor warned in his March budget address.

flickr/LizMarie_AK

  Members of the General Assembly this spring are grappling with whether to change the way schools are funded in Illinois. With just a month of session left, the plan's sponsor is altering his strategy, in hopes Republican opposition will fade into bipartisan support.

Senator Andy Manar wants schools to receive state money based on the needs of their students ... not the wealth of local property taxpayers. So, the Democrat from Bunker Hill has proposed an overhaul of Illinois' complicated school funding formula.

Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers are considering a major change to the way local schools get money from the state. But information about how individual school districts would fare in the new system won't be ready until just before the end of the spring legislative session.

Illinois' schools are primarily funded by local property taxes, which means that there's a big disparity in how much money is spent on a student depending on her zip code.

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