Illinois Continues to Shortchange Students

Current Events & News, School Funding | 03/19/2018

Scott McDonald
Marketing & Communications Director

Scott manages communications and marketing strategy and implementation for the Illinois team.

Illinois school districts in high-poverty communities receive 22% less state and local funding than districts in low-poverty communities. That number has grown by three percentage points compared to three years ago.

Even after the Education Trust’s 2015 report showing our last-place status in school funding equity, Illinois waited until the summer of 2017 to finally fix the formula. We spent those years putting band-aids on a broken system, and the foundation of the Evidence-Based Model is a hold harmless: no district loses. This underscores the critical importance of investing in that new formula. If we don’t invest, nothing changes. Ed Trust’s new report, “Funding Gaps: An Analysis of School Funding Equity Across the U.S. and Within Each State” highlights the need for more funding so we can really get to equity.

When figures are adjusted for the additional needs of low-income students, the highest poverty districts receive even less per student than the lowest poverty districts – 29% less to be precise.

We already noted that Illinois has the most regressive school funding system in the country, but how do the numbers otherwise stack up compared to other states across the country? While Illinois funds the lowest poverty districts 22% more than those with the highest poverty, the next closest state is Missouri, which has a 9% gap. Conversely, Utah has the best funding gap in the country, with the highest poverty districts receiving 21% more funding per student than the lowest poverty districts, a 43% difference compared to Illinois.

These numbers show, in the starkest of contrasts, how dire the school funding situation is here in Illinois. Last summer’s fix to our state’s broken school funding system is desperately needed. It will take time to close this funding gap, but these numbers illustrate the issue and exactly how far Illinois has to go to fix this problem.

Download the full Funding Gaps here.

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