school funding

When Illinois overhauled its school funding formula almost two years ago, it took so much time and effort that lawmakers built in a provision designed to make changes easier in the future. It shows up near the end of the 550-page law, with the creation of the Professional Review Panel — a group of stakeholders and experts empowered to recommend recalibrations of the law.

 

But a measure moving through the legislature now, would recalibrate the Review Panel itself, by giving Gov. J.B. Pritzker power to appoint a chair and vice-chair.

More than two dozen school districts learned last week that they're eligible for property tax relief grants from the Illinois State Board of Education. Most of those districts have inadequate funding. But a few already exceed what's needed to provide a good education.

CARTER STALEY / NPR ILLINOIS

The Illinois State Board of Education voted unanimously to ask the General Assembly to practically double state funding for public schools.

Last summer, the legislature voted to change the way Illinois funds schools by adopting what's called an “evidence-based model.” That model weighs what each district needs against its local resources. As it turns out, some districts can't achieve even 50 percent of adequate funding, while others have almost three times what they need.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner has boasted that fixing the woefully inequitable Illinois school-funding formula was his top accomplishment of the past year.

Latest School Funding Deal Fails In Illinois House Vote

Aug 28, 2017
state of Illinois

An education funding overhaul failed in the Illinois House, leaving money for more than 800 districts uncertain.

The legislation filed Monday provides a tax credit worth 75 percent of a taxpayer's annual contributions to a scholarship fund, with a maximum credit of $1 million annually. The money may be donated to a specific school, but not to a specific student. 

Students receiving the scholarships must have a total household income of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level. 

Teacher unions oppose the tax credit.  

   

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said it's likely she will have to skip another payment to the state’s public school districts as the result of a political fight between Democrats in the legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Mendoza said schools are expecting another payment from the state on Sunday.

"Every single child across the state of Illinois is being attacked right now because of nonsensical politics at play from Governor Rauner," Mendoza said.

Schools are not receiving state money while elected officials debate how best to distribute state money.

Daisy Contreras/NPR Illinois

The Illinois State Senate spent Sunday in session, where Senators voted 38 to 19 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of the new school funding bill.

The override wasn't a surprise, because this new evidence-based funding plan originally had cleared the Senate with a veto-proof majority. The House, however, represents a higher hurdle, where Democrats will need Republicans to vote with them. That vote is scheduled Wednesday.

Sen. Andy Manar, the Bunker Hill Democrat who sponsored the measure, says he'd rather negotiate a compromise.

CPS To Lay Off Nearly 1,000 Staffers

Aug 7, 2017
CPS

Nearly 1,000 Chicago Public Schools employees — including 356 teachers — are getting pink slips due to projected decreases in student enrollment and program changes, the district announced on Monday.

CPS said this is the lowest number of teacher layoffs in a decade. High schools, which are seeing the greatest enrollment declines in the district, are the hardest hit. High schools will lose 466 support staff and 116 teachers. Historically, 60 percent of laid off teachers are rehired elsewhere in the district, CPS said.

State of Illinois

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Tuesday vetoed significant portions of legislation that would overhaul the way Illinois funds public schools.  

Much of the legislation has bipartisan support, but the governor took issue with Democratic provisions meant to help Chicago Public Schools.

"This isn't a bailout, this is wonderful for everybody, this... No, that is false! The numbers that I've put out and the numbers that I'm traveling the state every day is the truth," Rauner said. 

The fact-checking group Politifact Illinois today said Rauner’s assessment is “false."

Carter Staley/NPR Illinois

The new state budget will fund Illinois colleges and universities at the level they received in 2015 — minus 10 percent. But there’s one area of higher education that got a boost.  

The Monetary Award Program, known as MAP, provides grants of up to $4,700 to low-income college students.

The two-year budget impasse caused a break in MAP funding, and affected students spoke out about how this interruption threw their lives into chaos. Lawmakers responded by increasing the amount going to MAP scholarships by 10 percent in the new state budget.

  Last summer, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a last-minute plan to appropriate state money to public schools. It allowed districts to open on time, but the actual funds for programs such as special education and busing have been slow in coming.

State Comptroller Susana Mendoza is in charge of disbursing the money but says she can't due to lack of cash on hand.

“As of today," she said, "I think our actual cash flow -- our available balance -- might be actually 159 million dollars."

"A Teacher's Library" by Flickr User Angie Garrett / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois House members are picking up education funding reform where they say a commission convened by the governor left off.

Lawmakers gathered Tuesday to discuss proposals to revise the way Illinois finances its public schools. They plan this spring to write legislation to overhaul what many say is an outdated education funding model.

Flickr user JayMase / "Physical Education" (CC V 2.0)

Illinois Democrats are calling on Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to propose legislation based on an education funding reform plan that a commission he convened released last week.

But Education Secretary Beth Purvis indicated such proposals should come from legislators.

Purvis testified Thursday before the Senate Education Committee about the panel's recommendations on how to fund Illinois schools more equitably. Lawmakers called it a step forward but suggested the governor use it as a framework for legislation to keep proposals from receiving a partisan label.

Last summer, Governor Bruce Rauner asked 20 lawmakers and a handful of educators to change how Illinois funds public schools. That bipartisan commission produced a “framework,” but no actual legislation.

 

That is despite the group’s continual focus on a plan favored by Rauner.

 

    

 

 

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced in July that he was creating a bipartisan commission to change the way the state funds public schools. That commission held its third meeting this week. But another commission is tackling the same topic, and its founder claims her group is getting more work done.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

The state budget impasse has forced schools to come up with plans for how they’ll open next year without state funding.

    

It’s a decision which schools that operate year-round have to confront sooner than most.  

Some school districts designate just a handful of buildings to operate year-round, but in Rock Island, every school is on that schedule.

The school board has considered cost-saving measures, like eliminating athletics and band, as well as debt options like opening a line of credit.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

More than a dozen school superintendents have written a letter to Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner accusing him of playing politics with education funding.

School leaders including from Chicago, Peoria and East Moline sent the letter Monday to Rauner. They say schools won't open on time and call Illinois' funding formula the nation's most "regressive." 

They also claim stand-alone school funding bills Republicans introduced at session's end continue unequal spending.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois Senate has approved a second method for revamping school funding just days before the Legislature's scheduled adjournment.

The proposal by Democratic Sen. Kimberly Lightford of Maywood would rewrite the state-aid formula beginning with the 2017-2018 school year with an interim funding and fairness boost for his fall. It passed 31-18.

The interim plan would establish a funding "foundation" for each district similar to Bunker Hill Democratic Sen. Andy Manar's plan the Senate OK'd this month.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois superintendents warned of school closures and staff layoffs as they implored state lawmakers to pass a budget to give them certainty for the fall.

Education funding is the only portion of the budget for the current year that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed, meaning schools have largely been spared the consequences of the budget impasse.

But superintendents from districts including Kankakee, Moline, and Streator expressed worry Tuesday that there's no agreement for next year yet.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

A $454 million bill to increase funding for financially struggling Illinois colleges and universities has cleared the state Senate.

Lawmakers approved the bill on a near unanimous vote and sent the measure to the House on Thursday.

Democrats who control the Legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner have been unable to agree on a budget since July 1, and higher education institutions have been forced to lay off staff.

Last month, lawmakers used $600 million left over in an education fund to help colleges make it through the summer.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Five Illinois schools will receive more than $20 million in federal grants over the next five years to help improve student performance and ensure students are better prepared for college.

State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith announced the School Improvement Grant winners yesterday.

They are: Matheny Elementary in Springfield, Sandoval High School in Sandoval, Gage Park High School in Chicago, Gordon Bush Elementary in East St. Louis and Kennedy Middle School in Rockford.

AIRSS

Illinois lawmakers return to work this week, and one of the decisions they face is whether to pass a school funding reform plan.

David Ardrey, executive director of the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, says it’s important to keep the issue in the forefront until the state’s school funding system is changed.

“I don’t think this conversation is going to go away,” Ardrey said. “Will it pass this year? I don’t know. Will it pass in this state some day? I think it will.”

Illinois lawmakers are also considering proposals to rewrite the way the state funds public schools. 

Marguerite Roza directs the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University.

Roza gave the State School Board two keys for a good funding formula: Keep it generic, and tie every dollar to students instead of programs.

Board members plan to discuss Roza’s recommendations at their meeting next month. 

A new plan to change the school funding formula is emerging in the legislature. Jason Barickman, a Republican state senator from Bloomington, plans to introduce a bill, which he believes will be supported by Governor Bruce Rauner.

“Think about something else he said yesterday, in the context of his criminal justice reforms. In announcing those reforms, the governor embraced an evidence-based model, and that’s what this is.”

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

It'll take until mid-May -- as the legislative session is drawing to a close -- to learn which schools will win, and which will lose, under a proposed new way to fund education in Illinois.

The effort to change how Illinois decides how much state money it gives each district is rooted in the belief that the current formula is outdated, and that it helps perpetuate disparities between schools in wealthy areas and poor ones.

The proposed new method would make funding determinations based on need.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

School superintendents in Illinois are getting a chance to weigh in on what could be a huge change in the state’s public school funding formula. 

Republicans Criticize "Rushed" School Funding Overhaul

Apr 11, 2014
State of Illinois

A proposal to overhaul the way Illinois schools get state funding is advancing in the state Senate. Republicans say the plan is being rushed through the General Assembly, and they are worried that Chicago schools will get an even bigger share of the money than they do now.

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, has made it his mission to change the way schools are funded in Illinois. The freshman senator says it's long overdue because there's been no change in 17 years.

Susan Stephens/Roberta F / Creative Commons

The Illinois State Board of Education is warning school districts to prepare to make due with less next fiscal year.