ISBE Budget Request Would Increase Funding For Districts ... Except Wealthy Ones

Jan 6, 2016

Most school districts in Illinois would get an increase in state aid if a budget request approved Wednesday by the State Board of Education is adopted.

Credit State of Illinois

Only the wealthiest districts would see a decrease, and it would be less than 1 percent. 

State funding for public schools has remained stagnant or decreased for the past five years. Districts with low property values have no way to supplement that aid, leaving Illinois with one of the most inequitable funding scenarios in the nation.

A plan approved by the State Board of Education would increase state funding to all but the wealthiest districts, by shifting about $300 million from special education into the general school funding formula. 

State Superintendent of Schools Tony Smith says the proposal aligns with the board’s priority of sending funds to the kids who need it the most.

“You can run every district through this and there’s no unexpected winner or loser. … I think it works out to 77 percent of high-need students benefit in this model,” Smith said.

As the board unanimously voted to send the request to lawmakers, one member said that legislators would try to take credit for the redistribution of funds.

But the request is far from a done deal; lawmakers will discuss the plan as part of their larger budget talks.