It’s official: Illinois has an education budget for next school year. Last weekend, legislators in Springfield crammed a whole spring’s worth of work into a grueling four-day legislative session. (And by “grueling,” I mean for them - not for me. I kept my social distance and watched from home, as they took careful precautions to avoid spreading coronavirus. It was the weirdest session I’ve ever [virtually] witnessed.)
So about that budget...it’s both a sigh of relief and a disappointment. After the pandemic blew a $7 billion hole in the budget, it became clear that—not only would it be difficult to secure another $350 million for evidence-based funding—it might be a struggle to even protect the funding formula from cuts! In the end, next school year’s evidence-based funding budget will remain at this year’s funding level.
Along with several Illinois education funding experts, I spoke with Chalkbeat recently about the budget. Read their budget write-up here. As we continue to feel the repercussions of the pandemic, children will need more and more supports and there are still districts with less than 60% of the funding they need. Now, they are asked to do more with what’s clearly an inadequate amount of funding.
We are thankful to leaders in Springfield for sustaining the progress that has been made in funding the formula. At the same time, we must keep up the fight to put Illinois on a realistic path to fully funding education.
Thanks for standing with us during this uncertain time and adding your voice in support of Illinois schools.