Springfield – All Illinois school districts would benefit from a more equitable distribution of state education dollars under a compromise proposal introduced by State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) to fix the state’s broken school aid formula and end the budget stalemate, according to data released by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
“This is a true compromise that embraces the priorities of lawmakers from both parties and both legislative chambers, and reflects the recommendations of the Governor’s bipartisan, bicameral Illinois School Funding Reform Commission,” Sen. Barickman said.
“Our legislation focuses on agreed-to principles and best practices to create real equity by treating all districts and students fairly under one system, regardless of zip code,” Barickman continued. “Now the data from ISBE clearly demonstrates that this is the most equitable plan for all students.”
The ISBE data show how schools would fare under Amendment 3 to Senate Bill 1124 as part of a compromise package of budget and reform measures that Sen. Barickman says would be signed by the Governor.
As demonstrated in the data released by ISBE (highlighted in the table below), school districts in every region of the state would fare better under this compromise measure and Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 would drive more funding to low-income students across the state’s 852 school districts than they would receive under previous measures, including Senate Bill 1.
Supporters of Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 say the two measures are very similar. Both utilize the 27-element evidence-based model, as well as the same methods to deliver funding to low-income students, and identical systems to determine cost differences between districts. In addition, both group districts into four tiers based on need, and use the same local resource calculations. Further, both proposals feature safeguards for English learners and special education students.
“These two bills have far more in common than areas where they disagree,” said Barickman. “However, the differences between them underscore why Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 advances a more fair and equitable distribution of funding for all 852 of our school districts.”
Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 notably treats all schools the same in the actual calculation of the base funding minimum. In contrast, Senate Bill 1 adds hundreds of millions of extra dollars to the base funding minimum for only one school district, Chicago Public Schools (CPS). This is money Sen. Barickman says could otherwise be sent through the evidence-based model to be equitably distributed to all schools.
The ISBE analysis shows Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 provides every single school district with more evidence-based tier funding than Senate Bill 1. When including both base funding and tier funding, every downstate and suburban school district would receive more funding through Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 than under Senate Bill 1. Chicago Public Schools would receive additional funding in separate legislation (HB 4065) that calls for the state to pick up in perpetuity the normal costs for Chicago teachers’ pensions.
“This legislation shows the best results at an agreed-to funding level,” said Barickman. “This plan is realistic, fair, and represents the best and most reasonable outcome for all Illinois students.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner recently stated that he would sign Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 into law if it passes the General Assembly. He urged lawmakers to take up the measure during the upcoming special session.
“This is a good compromise that we can pass right now and get it signed into law for the upcoming school year," said Barickman. "This is the best path forward for school funding reform. I urge my colleagues to call this legislation for a vote as soon as possible."
Results of the ISBE analysis for Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 and Senate Bill 1 are available at https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Education-Funding-Proposals.aspx. A side-by-side comparison can be found at http://senategop.state.il.us.
Both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly are scheduled to convene in special session through June 30.