After countless hours of public meetings and legislative debate, a bipartisan agreement to fix the state’s broken school-funding formula is now on its way to the Governor, according to Senator Tim Bivins.
Passed by the House on August 28 and by the Senate on August 29, Senate Bill 1947 is a compromise that has some provisions many lawmakers and their constituents support, and other provisions many oppose.
“All lawmakers should have as our common goal a plan to ensure we’re doing the best for our students,” Senator Bivins said. “Although there aspects of this legislation I do not support, there are changes that will improve the way we fund schools in Illinois, as well as mandate relief, more equitable charter school funding, and a much-needed property tax relief provision.”
Senate Bill 1947 replaces the state’s outdated school funding formula with a new evidence-based model that utilizes data and widely-accepted best practices to determine how to send funding where it is needed most and where it will help the most students. The evidence-based model relies on 27 sets of data to determine the actual costs for each school district to provide an adequate education for the students, which is referred to as an adequacy target. Funding is then prioritized to the schools that are the furthest from their adequacy target.
The legislation also includes significant mandate relief for schools to reduce costs, as well as a system to help reduce the burden of skyrocketing property taxes on families. In addition, the bill would help encourage a scholarship program that would offer school choice for low-income students.
“We have been working for years to fix Illinois’ broken education funding system that has left too many schools with insufficient resources, and then dumps the burden of funding on local property taxpayers. Many changes initially seemed promising, but ended up being little more than an elaborate reshuffling of state aid that pits schools against one another. I have never supported any plan that takes money away from some districts and sends it to others,” Senator Bivins said. “This plan is realistic, fair and represents the most reasonable outcome for all Illinois students.”
Senate Bill 1947 is now headed to Governor Bruce Rauner who is expected to sign it into law.