A Northern Illinois University expert on education says the state’s new school funding reform bill marks a paradigm shift in how Illinois treats public schools.
Dr. Kristine Kiracofe is Professor of Educational Administration at NIU. She says the funding reform bill is a really significant change. It means Illinois will no longer have one of the most -- if not the most -- regressive system of education funding in the country.
“Some people are literally calling this perhaps the most historic bill that the General Assembly’s acting on in recent history,” she said. “Districts that historically have not been funded as well, stand to gain a significant increase in funding.”
Kiracofe said that’s because of what’s at the bill’s core: an evidence-based model that looks at each district’s particular situation.
“It adds up the cost of everything,” she said, “and creates what’s sort of an adequacy target. And the state money that the school receives will be based on this adequacy target. That’s the real win, I think, for children in Illinois.”
But, Kiracofe said, poor districts aren’t the only ones that will be affected. A provision in the bill allowing for property tax relief could have a significant impact on more wealthy districts. And reductions in some unfunded mandates will affect everyone.
Kiracofe said that, while there are questions about the impact of some items in the bill, as well as how it will be implemented, it remains a big step toward addressing the huge disparities in funding among Illinois schools.