Update from Springfield: New ISBE Modeling for SB1

Legislation, Equitable Funding | 03/30/2015

Jessica Handy
Government Affairs Director

Jessica advocates at the state capitol for fair school funding and equitable education policies.

We have seen many developments related to school funding over the past few days. One of the biggest came late last week when, after two months of anticipation, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released modeling on what school districts can expect under SB1.

You might recall that last year’s SB16 would have modernized the State’s funding formula to funnel more of Illinois’ limited funds through an integrated formula driven by the level of student need and a district’s ability to pay. Over the course of a year of public hearings and discussions with stakeholders across the state, an updated proposal took shape in the form of SB1 based on feedback received by State Senator Andy Manar and the Education Funding Advisory Committee.

ISBE’s modeling suggests that:

  • About 55% of students across Illinois would see an increase in funding under SB 1.
  • Some districts will benefit more modestly under SB1 than under SB16 due to a combination of a fluctuation in property values and amendments made based on stakeholder input.
  • Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will see an increase of $141 million under SB1. We always assumed with the changes in local property values and the improvements to the formula that target more resources based on poverty concentration that CPS would benefit; now the numbers back that up. (It’s not enough to fix CPS’s desperately underfunded system and massive pension debt, but it is one step toward a solution.)
  • On the flip side, some of the districts that had been classified as “anomalies” under SB16 are now in a more realistic place under SB1. For example, Proviso Township HSD 209 – a high-poverty district, would have lost $1,000 per pupil under SB16. The more accurate data in SB1 would net the district over $100 more per pupil.
  • About 100 of Illinois’ 860+ school districts would qualify for a targeted adequacy grant under SB1. This provision ensures that low-spending, high-taxing districts are held harmless under the bill.
  • Finally, updating the formula is only one part of the solution. The more modest per pupil gain highlights the need for more dollars in our desperately underfunded education system. Sen. Manar, the bill’s sponsor, has asked for a $500 million investment in education to go along with the funding changes.

Today begins a two-week legislative “spring break,” so legislators are at home in their districts. Many are likely checking in with their local school superintendents to talk about funding reform. It is a perfect time for you to reach out to your legislator if you have thoughts on the new SB1 to share with them! You can find your state representative here, and then find their district office phone number here. We’ll get back to work in Springfield on April 14.

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