School Funding Reform Commission Produces Final Framework

Pictured above are some of the 20 legislators who served on the commission
with the Secretary of Education Beth Purvis and State Superintendent Tony Smith. 
We have been talking about adequate school funding for decades without ever trying to quantify how much it actually costs to use the best practices for the needs of students in each school. Nor have we done enough to decrease our reliance on property taxes to fund education or the funding gap that exists between property wealthy districts and those with low property wealth.

The Illinois School Funding Reform Commission has been meeting for months to discuss these issues and on February 1 approved a framework to help the General Assembly create a new school funding formula. While some elements like determining the level of funding needed for each individual school can be done quickly, coming up with additional money to decrease the dependence on property taxes to fund education will take time.

The Commission’s recommendations including giving new funding to the schools farthest away from their adequacy targets in order to serve the most vulnerable students first. It was determined that more resources should be directed to school districts based on the student’s special needs and large concentrations of poverty.

As for districts with high property taxes or school funding well above the adequacy target, the Commission offered adjustments in the distribution of funds and suggested citizens should have the option by referendum to lower property taxes.

Just funding schools at an adequate level based on the needs of students, will require at least $3.5 billion and increasing the state’s share of funding education above it’s current 26 percent share will take about that much more.

The commission stated clearly that education is the key to economic growth and better lives for our citizens. Education helps raise family income levels and employment, and reduces the need for social services.

No comments :