The state Illinois will finally begin sending local school districts more than $350 million dollars to equalize school funding. The funds, set to go out next week, come as the result of the reform battle waged in the General Assembly over the past several years.
Illinois’ new school funding plan, approved last summer, requires calculating the exact amount each district needs to supply adequate education, and comparing that to how much money the district can raise through reasonable property tax rates.
Using this metric, more than half the districts currently flunk funding, because they can’t raise even half of what they need. But about 140 districts have more than they need — more than 100 percent of “adequate funding.” A few even have more than twice as much as they need.
All schools will get the same funds they got last year, plus at least a few extra dollars through the equity plan. The needier the district, the more money it will get.
It’s the first dose of cash appropriated above last year’s funding level, and is calculated to channel money to the neediest schools.
State Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood), was one of the sponsors of the school funding overhaul. With allotments just being announced, he says he’s curious to see how it worked out.
“But the idea that we have revamped the Illinois funding formula to provide not only just more money but a different way of distributing dollars that really tries to help the districts that need it the most — yeah, we’ve got to be proud of that,” Davis says.
The law also establishes a review panel that will be able to recommend changes to the formula in the years ahead.