Generally speaking, public school districts in this country receive about half of their K-12 funding from state government, raise some locally, and get a small slice from the federal government.
This is not the case in Illinois.
Illinois relies much more heavily on local property taxes to fund their schools. In Illinois, school districts receive only about a quarter of K-12 funding from State government. Two-thirds comes from local sources. The federal government provides 7%.
If you factor in the fact that Illinois state government picks up most teacher pension fund costs for school districts, the share of state dollars rises from about a quarter to one-third. But even so, Illinois remains among those whose state government kicks in the smallest slice of school funding.
That’s a key reason Stand remains focused on state-level funding policy in Illinois. Educational equity cannot be achieved without equitable funding, and in Illinois, we still have quite a long way to go. In order for every Illinois student to have access to a high quality, relevant education, Springfield should distribute adequate amounts of funding in an equitable manner. School districts, in turn, should distribute their state and local funds equitably to schools.
So where do we, as a state go next?
We must continue down the path to equity that started with passage in 2017 of an evidence-based funding formula.
Illinois must also step up its rate of investment in our students’ future, because 85% of Illinois students still attend underfunded schools, and the amount needed to close the adequacy gap is $7 billion.
Key strategies at the State-level for accelerating the trajectory toward adequate funding include fixing the hidden school funding inequities that persist by supporting equitable pension funding, increasing revenue through adoption of a fair tax, and right-sizing property taxes to further fix the state’s regressive funding structure.
Equity should also prevail at the school district level, whether the district serves over 300,000 students as Chicago Public Schools does, or about 100 students like Union SD 81 in Will County.