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Education Desk
The Education Desk is our education blog focusing on key areas of news coverage important to the state and its improvement. Evidence of public policy performance and impact will be reported and analyzed. We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of education from pre-natal to Higher Ed.Dusty Rhodes curates this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.About - Additional Education Coverage00000179-2419-d250-a579-e41d385d0000

School Funding Left Out A Few Thousand Kids

students at school
West 40 Regional Safe Schools
Students at West Suburban Cook County ROE schools were among those left out of Illinois new school funding law.

Almost two years after Illinois overhauled its school funding formula, educators are still trying to tie up a few loose ends that got overlooked in the 540-page legislation. One of those loose ends omitted funding for about 7,000 students.

Those kids are the ones who need what's called "alternative school," because they've struggled with discipline or truancy, and fallen behind. Many alternative schools are run by regional offices, rather than traditional school districts. And those regional offices weren't incorporated in the overhaul plan.


"They don't cleanly fit into the formula, and so they want some refinement,” says Mike Popp. He’s assistant executive director of the West Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education.

The omission was noted within weeks of the reform law's enactment, but a solution seemed within reach. The 2017 school funding reform law had also created a Professional Review Panel, to refine and recalibrate that new formula as needed, and it took on the challenge of finding a way to fold the ROEs into the formula.

But after more than a dozen meetings, that Professional Review Panel's committee on ROE funding hasn't been able to find a way to fit most of those alternative schools into the plan.

"And so where that leaves us is having to seek assistance directly from legislators as they craft the bill or bills around this topic that we hopefully can get consideration from them,” Popp says, “just as we did on our supplemental appropriation last year."


After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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