A State Board of Education (ISBE) analysis shows a new compromise school funding bill sponsored by State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) will more equitably fund all local schools throughout the state compared to any previous proposals.
“We came back to Springfield to finish critical work on a budget and transformational reform measures, and the issue of education funding is an important piece of that package,” said Senator McConnaughay. “Senate Bill 1124 is the best fix to our school funding formula to ensure Illinois is finally fairly and more equitably funding all Illinois schools.”
According to the data provided from ISBE, Senate Bill 1124 Amendment 3 would better achieve delivering financial help to low-income students than previous legislation advanced by the General Assembly, including Senate Bill 1. In fact, the ISBE analysis shows schools throughout the entire state would receive more tier funding under Senate Bill 1124 as amended than any previous proposals.
However, McConnaughay said Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 and Senate Bill 1 are actually very similar. Both utilize the same 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 measures group districts into the same four tiers based on need, and use the same local resource calculations. Further, both proposals feature the same safeguards for English learners and special education students.
“It’s time that both sides come together to help the children of Illinois,” said Senator McConnaughay. “This proposal incorporates priorities from lawmakers representing both parties and both chambers, and encompasses the recommendations of the Governor’s bipartisan, bicameral Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, making it a truly bipartisan bill that will provide all Illinois 852 school districts students with a more equitable distribution of state education dollars.”
A key difference between Senate Bill 1124 Amendment 3 and Senate Bill 1 is that while the two bills propose to use an identical pool of dollars for the base funding minimum, Senate Bill 1124 SFA3 notably treats all schools the same in the actual calculation of that base number. However, 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 Senator McConnaughay says could otherwise be sent through the evidence-based model to be equitably distributed to all schools.
The ISBE analysis shows Senate Bill 1124 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 than under Senate Bill 1. Chicago Public Schools would receive additional funding in separate legislation which calls for the state to pick up a share of the normal costs for Chicago teachers’ pensions.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner recently stated that he would sign Senate Bill 1124 SFA 3 into law if passes the General Assembly. He urged lawmakers to take up the measure during the upcoming special session.
“The Governor has indicated his willingness to sign this compromise proposal into law for the upcoming school year,” said McConnaughay. “There is no reason we can’t move forward with this measure over the coming week.”
The full ISBE analysis for both bills is available at https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Education-Funding-Proposals.aspx.