* David Ormsby has a long post on a new proposal to revamp school funding…
“The disparity between school districts that have resources and those that don’t is only getting worse, meaning too many children are being denied an equal opportunity for a quality public education,” Manar stated.
Manar’s plan would combine the state’s current funding sources, which each have their own rules, regulations and paperwork, into one funding formula that would account for school districts’ funding needs. The committee recommended ending Chicago’s individual block grant.
The majority of state school funding is provided through General State Aid, which is distributed based on school districts’ needs. But schools also receive separate funding through grants to programs, including special education and transportation, which are not distributed based on need.
* As does Jamey Dunn at the Illinois Issues blog…
. The goals as stated in the report are:
Make use of a single funding formula.
Provide additional funding to at-risk, special education and English-language learner students through the single formula.
Hold districts and students to higher standards.
Require districts to provide greater clarity on how funds are expended.
Guarantee that all districts receive a fair amount of minimum funding from the state.
Ensure that districts retain the same level of funding as under the current funding system for a period of time once a new funding system is adopted.
Include an accurate reflection of a district’s ability to fund education programs within the district.
Equalize taxing ability between dual districts and unit districts.
Review the financial burden placed on school districts through instructional and non-instructional mandates.
Provide additional transparency regarding the distribution of education funding.
The group plans to emphasize equity with a focus on more sunlight in education budgeting at both the state and local levels and an assessment of costly requirements placed on schools by law. “We had significant discussion about the cost of mandates to local school districts and how we can better address those costs on the legislative level,” said Manar, who is from Bunker Hill.
* From Kurt Erickson’s take…
The group found that the majority of state aid flowing to school districts is not based on whether a district can afford to pay for it out of local property tax dollars.
“The disparity between school districts that have resources and those that don’t is only getting worse, meaning too many children are being denied an equal opportunity for a quality public education,” Manar said.
But revamping the formula could mean some districts will get fewer state dollars, triggering turf battles among lawmakers and potentially dooming the proposal.
For example, state aid for Chicago schools is handled differently than funding for downstate schools. If the state’s largest city is in line to see a drop in state aid, members of the House and Senate could ignore Manar’s call for change.
* Sen. Daniel Biss gets the last word…
Illinois’ education funding system is so broken that the state is now sending school districts nearly random amounts of money. For the last three years, aid to schools has been prorated across the board, which is among the least thoughtful and most regressive ways of dealing with a budget shortfall.
That’s why I’m thankful to the members of the Senate Education Funding Advisory Committee for spending the last six months thinking through some of the most complex questions we face and listening to those who directly experience the effects of haphazard state aid. I’m very encouraged by the committee’s recommendations. Rolling most types of state K-12 funding into a single formula is the best way to give local school districts the resources they need.
Changing the formula that distributes money to school districts will never be painless or easy. But the committee’s recommendations are a firm step in the right direction, and I’m excited about supporting and assisting the committee this spring as we work toward a formula that does what it was intended to do.
Finally, any formula is pointless unless we fully fund it. Once we come up with a formula we believe in, we must devote enough state dollars to make it work. Adequate state funding for education must be a primary consideration as we address the state’s budget and tax structure.