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New school funding reform bill should halt state’s continued slide

Tuesday, Feb 27, 2018

* Press release

A new report shows that Illinois’ education funding system provides 78 cents to a low-income student for every dollar spent on a non-low-income student and remains the most regressive system in the nation. Funding Gaps 2018, released today by The Education Trust, is an update to a report that was widely circulated by Advance Illinois and other partners as part of the effort to fix Illinois’ school funding formula. The previous Funding Gaps report showed that Illinois spent 81 cents on a low-income student for every dollar spent on a non-low-income student.

“The Education Trust data has been instrumental in drawing attention to the inequity of Illinois’ funding system and galvanizing action toward a solution,” said Ginger Ostro, Executive Director of Advance Illinois. “Today’s report underscores why the school funding formula needed to be fixed.”

The report also features Advance Illinois and its campaign toward school funding reform, noting that the new formula went into effect for the 2017-2018 school year, after the education funding data reflected in this year’s analysis were collected. Data in the analysis is from 2013-2015.

“It will be a number of years before these reforms are evident in the school district financial data used in these analyses,” the report states. […]

In Illinois, the highest poverty districts receive 22 cents less in state and local funds per student than the highest poverty districts.

We’re dead last in the country. Great. The full report is here.

According to the Illinois section of the report, the highest poverty districts receive $3,380, or 22 percent less per student than the lowest poverty districts. When the numbers are “adjusted for additional needs of low-income students,” the highest poverty districts receive $4,281, or 29 percent less per student than the lowest poverty districts.

That funding reform bill couldn’t have come too soon.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

47 Comments
  1. - Shemp - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:02 am:

    Other states were addressing this decades ago as demographics changed. It’s shameful how long this took, but at least they finally got to it. Maybe they’ll go after structural deficits in 20 years.


  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:17 am:

    Are schools whole on their FY17 money yet?


  3. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:18 am:

    And yet no mention of what the raw, total per-student spend actually is. Wonder why.


  4. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:26 am:

    We do need reform


  5. - Stand Tall - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:29 am:

    If these numbers were associated with a Republican GA with a Republican Governor this comment section would have filled up fast and with some very mean comments. But seeing that this was brought to you by the Democratic Party and Michael Madigan’s GA leadership not hardly a peep. Hardly any comments about Madigan’s failed leadership on school funding over the years.


  6. - Ron - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:32 am:

    Stand Tall, Illinois Democrats are generally terrible.


  7. - Ron - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:33 am:

    Berrios? Prekwinkle?


  8. - Ron - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:36 am:

    Quinn? Blags?


  9. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:53 am:

    @Stand Tall:

    Can you be any more of a victim?


  10. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:54 am:

    Education funding inequities are better measured by class size, physical resources (ie computers), and curriculum (ie music class) because most of this funding discrepancy is due to teacher salaries. Teachers in low poverty district such as LTHS are paid 25-40% more than teachers in a neighboring high poverty district such as Proviso. Naturally, this will lead to huge differences in spending. But if Proviso offers the same classes with the same class sizes and the same resources but their teachers are paid less, is that truly a discrepancy?

    One state-wide salary scheduled that averaged all the teacher salaries across the state would address a large chunk of this discrepancy, allowing teachers to move district to district without a negative impact on their salary.


  11. - anon2 - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 10:57 am:

    === If these numbers were associated with a Republican GA with a Republican Governor this comment section would have filled up fast and with some very mean comments. ===

    Did the GOP governors not contribute to Illinois’ last-in-the-nation ranking? How about Pate Philip? Did he ever support funding equity for the poor?


  12. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:01 am:

    @City Zen:

    Wow. You’ve solved the problem by simply making sure all teachers make roughly the same amount of money. Who knew such a complicated problem could be solved with such a simplistic solution?


  13. - School Finance - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:05 am:

    “Are schools whole on their FY17 money yet?”
    Yes, received final payments at the end of December 2017.


  14. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    –Yes, received final payments at the end of December 2017.–

    Much obliged.


  15. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    @Demoralized - Thank you for your sincere response. Indeed, the public sector has a habit of making things more complicated than they should be. I’m glad you agree.

    On the off chance you’re not being sincere, back out salaries and recalculate the difference based on my criteria above. The resulting value is the true inequity.


  16. - dbk - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 12:02 pm:

    The 2019 budget hasn’t really acknowledged the existence of the new evidence-based model, acc. to Ralph Martire, who published an analysis on Feb. 15 of how the budget would affect state education spending.

    Even when not accounting for the shifting of 25% of TRS costs to downstate districts and 100% of pension costs to CPS, ed funding is only $98 million more than the previous budget; Martire suggests that to account for CPI-adjusted inflation, it should have been around $155 million more (just to stay even); thus, a CPI-adjusted shortfall of $57 million.

    Shifting pension costs to the districts would cost around $490 million, for a grand total of $547 million less to local districts than in 2018.

    Not that the pension thing will happen, but still: iirc, an additional $350 million or so was needed to start making districts whole(r) in line with the evidence-based funding bill. The total shortfall as calculated at the time was around $7 billion, but it was to be spread out over a length period of time.

    The 2019 budget pretty much treats SB 1947 as optional.

    @City Zen: all the factors you mentioned, including salary variations among districts, are already accounted for — in addition to many others — among the 27 criteria used for developing the evidence-based model.


  17. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 12:57 pm:

    City Zen. The state already has a problem because it pays positions the same everywhere. In many positions you can get better talent in Springfield than Chicago. The cost of living difference is enormous.

    Last time I checked, total expenditures per student were about equal in Chicago and Naperville. Outcomes are not.


  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:00 pm:

    ===total expenditures per student were about equal in Chicago and Naperville. Outcomes are not===

    Yes, because students’ socioeconomic standards, neighborhood safety, etc. are EXACTLY the same.

    Sheesh.


  19. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:09 pm:

    ===total expenditures per student were about equal in Chicago and Naperville. Outcomes are not===

    Is that a gag?


  20. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:10 pm:

    Shifting the pensions costs to the local school districts would create much needed pressure to reduce the district funded employee portion of the pension costs that are frequently paid by the school districts.


  21. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:35 pm:

    Not a gag. Point is that equal expenditure does not guarantee equal results.

    The differences in home life swamp school expenditures. Is there a level of expenditure that could produce equal outcomes? I doubt it. Parents are irreplaceable.

    When I worked for the City of Chicago, all my colleagues with children had them in private or magnet schools. They decided spending the extra money was worth it.


  22. - Ron - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:43 pm:

    Are schools in Naperville 90% low income?


  23. - Ron - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:44 pm:

    Magnet schools don’t cost more than any other CPS school.


  24. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:48 pm:

    ===create much needed pressure to reduce the district funded employee portion of the pension costs===

    Keep in mind that there’s a teacher shortage in this state.


  25. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:02 pm:

    –Parents are irreplaceable.–

    No divorces, single-parent homes in Naperville?

    Curious, when I was teenager in the 70s Downstate, about half of my friends had one parent in the home.


  26. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:03 pm:

    == The state already has a problem because it pays positions the same everywhere. In many positions you can get better talent in Springfield than Chicago. The cost of living difference is enormous. ==

    Yes and no. When I was still supervising personnel, I was transferred from Springfield to Chicago for over a year. Had to do the evaluations / performance reviews and recommend any salary increases (this was pre-union days).

    In my experience, the Chicago staff was two payroll titles higher for the same skill level. That was how the local managers compensated for the cost of living differences. I suspect that practice still occurs today.


  27. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:10 pm:

    ==Point is that equal expenditure does not guarantee equal results.==

    That’s actually the argument made against the evidence-based model. But you have to start somewhere.

    ==Are schools in Naperville 90% low income?==

    No, but CPS, like most big city school districts, doesn’t have a student population that reflects the overall city population. CPS may be 90% low income, but 90% of its residents are most certainly not.


  28. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:13 pm:

    –No, but CPS, like most big city school districts, doesn’t have a student population that reflects the overall city population. CPS may be 90% low income, but 90% of its residents are most certainly not.–

    What’s your point?


  29. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:21 pm:

    Ron is correct on magnet schools costing the same as other CPS schools. Most people I knew were paying extra for private schools.

    Obviously Naperville is not 90% low income. It takes more than just spending on schools to get good results. There is a program called “Baby Talk” (based in Decatur) that changes how mothers talk to and interact with their young children. It shows good results. Early education has shown good results. Reducing truancy in 8th and 9th grade (a Preckwinkle initiative ) can greatly improve graduation rates. These are changes in the system that will cost money but can help. If more money is needed for these programs, then I will vote to it.

    But these programs are trying to get the child to where they would be with informed and involved parents.


  30. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:24 pm:

    –Ron is correct on magnet schools costing the same as other CPS schools.–

    Magnet schools choose their students on a competitive basis (unless they’ve got clout). They don’t take on all comers.


  31. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:30 pm:

    Wordslinger. Naperville has single parents. Usually the non-custodial spouse has some involvement but not always. Parental expectations for kids in Naperville are high and shape the kids.

    RNUG. Two grades sounds about right. Problem is that I couldn’t get different grades for the same work. I ended up with the same grade but different quality.


  32. - Ron - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:38 pm:

    There is no teachers shortage in Chicago. Jobs are filled instantly with far more demand than existing jobs.


  33. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:44 pm:

    ====create much needed pressure to reduce the district funded employee portion of the pension costs===

    Keep in mind that there’s a teacher shortage in this state.=

    I just spent time at two job fairs recruiting teachers for our rural district. The shortage is here and it is hitting hard.

    AE Stevenson High School was directly across from me. Recognized as one of the best in the country with a high starting salary and they barely had any visitors at the ISU education job fair.

    The economic pressure on public schools in Illinois first forced schools to cut staff and stagnate wages. The brilliance of that action (total snark) has pushed kids away from public education and is creating real pressure in the job market. That is forcing wages UP not down. Schools are talking signing bonuses again and the competition is not between Illinois schools only. Within just a few feet of our table were districts from Colorado, Utah, North Carolina, California, Texas, and Florida. That is just one Illinois job fair. The school district from Utah reps told me they were hitting 18 jobs fairs across the country!

    7 years ago Illinois only had spot shortages limited to a couple of disciplines. Now Suburban schools like Downers Grove are seeing dramatically diminished pools of candidates. And teachers are not coming to Illinois from other states and it isn’t because of taxes and the likes of LP would like you to believe.

    The dark underbelly is not the additional cost in money but what it will do to education in Illinois and for our kids.

    The silver lining (there really isn’t one) is that the philosophy of people like Rauner and Lucky P will actually end up costing them more money. A bitter sweet irony.

    The funding issue in Illinois is not what the state gives to schools. High poverty districts get far more state money than other districts. Most do not have the local capacity to catch up like CPS does but they (CPS) refuses to access. The ones that are also hurt are the “middle class” districts which do not have high local wealth or high (enough) poverty. The tax burdens on these communities is real and it is big. These are all districts that will have to pay more for teachers.

    The truth is far more complicated than the 30 second sound bit has to offer.

    FYI- to @Ron- Today was the first time I have ever seen CPS represented at an ISU job fair. I don’t have proof (you probably don’t either) but anecdotal evidence would suggest you have no clue as to what you are talking about.


  34. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 3:11 pm:

    @JS Mill - About 20 years ago, someone thought it was a good idea for teachers to earn 2.2 credits for every year worked instead of 1.67. We were so anxious to push experienced teachers out the door and into a severely underfunded pension system so we could replace them with a cheaper replacement. Looks like that decision is coming back to bite us.


  35. - DuPage - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 3:33 pm:

    @- City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 3:11 pm:

    ===@JS Mill - About 20 years ago, someone thought it was a good idea for teachers to earn 2.2 credits for every year worked instead of 1.67. We were so anxious to push experienced teachers out the door and into a severely underfunded pension system so we could replace them with a cheaper replacement. Looks like that decision is coming back to bite us.===

    It’s not so much that the older teachers are retiring, mostly they can’t find enough new teachers. About 2010 or so someone came up with the idea of “tier 2″ pensions, which reportedly pay less then social security, and will pay the retiring “tier 2″ teacher LESS then what they paid in. Of course a beginning teacher would go to another state to teach. Illinois tier 2 makes the choice easy.


  36. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 3:47 pm:

    @DuPage - It’s a combination of both. The earlier you can fully vest, the earlier you tend to retire, the earlier a replacement is needed. 20 years ago, someone thought this was a good idea to save money. Another short-sighted idea that cannot be rolled back.

    There are Tier 2-type pension systems across the country. Minnesota has had a Tier 2 since 1989. Utah now has a hybrid 401k/pension system now with much lower years of service credits than Illinois.

    If there is a teacher shortage around here, school districts should follow Nevada’s lead and look west…to the Philippines.


  37. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    Tier One was not sustainable. My two sisters and brother-in-law are retired Illinois teachers. They are happy for what they have but realize the math does not work.

    School Districts will have to pay more or restructure teaching or both. When I graduated from college only 7% of the workforce had college degrees. Teachers were a large part of the college educated workforce. Not so true today.

    Everybody wants higher wages, until they are the ones paying them.


  38. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 4:05 pm:

    == thought it was a good idea for teachers to earn 2.2 credits for every year worked instead of 1.67. ==

    Apples and oranges.

    The 2.2 is for a non-coordinated (no SS) state only pension. The 1.67 is for a coordinated SS and state pension.


  39. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 4:06 pm:

    =Tier One was not sustainable.=

    The math?

    1970- Pensions funded at 41%

    2017- Pensions fundaed at about 40%

    Sustainable over what period of time? 1000 years?

    The issue is that for the better part of 100 years the money was diverted and borrowed which created debt.

    The historic investment returns based on the funds invested meant that in almost every year TRS has not touched the principal to make payments.

    Teachers put in 9%. The state was supposed to cover about 9%. Had the other half made its way to the pension system there is no question about the viability of the system.

    47 years and it is only roughly 1% less funded. I am not sure what math you are looking at besides tired old false talking points.

    As usual, the answer is stiff somebody else.

    Not.Gonna.Happen.


  40. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 4:09 pm:

    == I ended up with the same grade but different quality. ==

    - Last Bull Moose -, yep. Downtown is competative. Hard to keep good talent when they can get a raise elsewhere and don’t even have to change their parking space


  41. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 4:30 pm:

    I agree that pensions must be paid and they should not have been shorted on contributions.

    The math that did not work was having 35 years of work fund 30 years of retirement pay with a 3% annual increase in a time of low inflation. With advances in medicine and longevity, the old formulas don’t work.


  42. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 6:19 pm:

    LBM- “the old formulas don’t work”.

    All evidence to the contrary. Math can be tough right?

    What about high inflation years? You state 3% doesn’t work in low inflation years (I am really not sure what that means to be honest) does that mean in high inflation years it should be above 3-5%? Or are you trying to play both sides of the street? It appears we are about to see a higher inflation trend.


  43. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 6:37 pm:

    High inflation can change the numbers. Three or four years of 10% inflation like 1978-1982 would hurt pensioners and help the funds. Before Trump I would not have thought such rates were possible.

    When my sisters and brother-in-law started teaching wages were low. The pension formula balanced low wages. Then wages went up, especially in Naperville and they ended up better situated than expected. I have no problem with that.

    Medicine and longevity improved beyond the actuarial assumptions of forty years ago. I’m delighted for that, but it did wreck the formulas.

    All that made Tier One unsustainable for new hires.


  44. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 7:30 pm:

    =All that made Tier One unsustainable for new hires.=

    You keep repeating that. It isn’t accurate by the math.

    You are correct, salaries have risen. True statement. But to what degree in comparison to people with the equivalent level of education and experience? I know this, with most salary schedules, once you get past about 5 years of experience the increases in terms of percentage get quite a bit smaller since most are predicated on a percentage of the base salary. $100,000 after 30 years of work for someone with a Master’s or beyond is not a high salary.

    I am not a supporter of compounding AAI (the single largest cost driver for annual pension costs). I think many would be willing to bargain on that were the state and our politicians even remotely worthy of confidence but they are not.


  45. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 8:23 pm:

    We agree that politicians are not to be trusted.

    My belief is that if school districts had to pay the full costs of salaries and pensions on an accrual basis when incurred, they would have to either cut salaries or cut pensions. Tier 2 cuts pensions for new hires compared to tier 1.

    Where salaries end up with tier 2, I don’t know. I think how we teach will have to change. Look how the composition of medical teams has changed in the last 20 years.


  46. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 9:58 pm:

    ==1970- Pensions funded at 41%

    2017- Pensions funded at about 40%==

    That sounds more like an argument that a second tier of pension benefits should’ve been created in 1970. And probably a 3rd tier in 1990.

    ==All that made Tier One unsustainable for new hires.==

    Yep. Folks forget the core of Tier 1 benefits date back to assumptions made around WWII. When you look at benefit changes over the years, they’ve always been adjusted upwards and only a couple of times have those enhancements resulted in an increased employee contribution (and one of those times resulted in local districts paying as well).

    Tier 2 was too severe a shift, as it looks today. But who knows? Maybe in 2050, folks will be complaining how Tier 2 pensions are bankrupting the state.


  47. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 7:58 am:

    =That sounds more like an argument that a second tier of pension benefits should’ve been created in 1970. And probably a 3rd tier in 1990.=

    Again, you are not following the math. IN 2005 the percentages were about the same. That was 6 years before Tier 2.

    Really, if you do not know the numbers and the facts you really should sit these things out.

    =But who knows? Maybe in 2050, folks will be complaining how Tier 2 pensions are bankrupting the state.=

    Evidence would support that people will complain if public employees get any kind of retirement that exceeds what ever they get. Facts do not play into it.

    =Yep. Folks forget the core of Tier 1 benefits date back to assumptions made around WWII.=

    Yeah. No. Do some research. The pension system (at least TRS) was established long before WWII.

    Know your facts. The system has been sustaining for decades even while being under funded and the percentage of assets versus obligations has remained nearly constant.

    That is called sustainability. You don’t like the system but facts are facts.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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