Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » We need a capital bill
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
We need a capital bill

Monday, Mar 11, 2019

* John O’Connor on a state capital program for school construction

Former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar and a school-reform-minded Legislature concocted it in 1997. It promises a cost match of 35 percent to 75 percent, depending on local resources, for school districts adding classrooms for a growing enrollment or replacing outmoded structures. The state borrows the money by selling general obligation bonds.

Conceived as a $3 billion effort, it got a boost in 2001 from former GOP Gov. George Ryan’s $12 billion Illinois FIRST construction program. All told, from 1998 through 2003, there was $6.7 billion in school construction, with the state pouring in $3.5 billion, according to the AP analysis.

But school administrators dreaming of a huge payday from a Pritzker plan would do well to study the numbers from the last time the program saw substantial funding. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now construction program in 2010 was, at $31 billion, 2 ½ times larger than Illinois FIRST. It yielded just $1.3 billion in state funds toward a $2.7 billion investment overall for schools.

* The backlog is huge

Illinois State Board of Education records indicate that since 2004, 270 Illinois school districts have applied for 285 state school construction grants without funding. Based on the average cost of the 606 projects funded since the program debuted in 1998 and adjusted for inflation, The Associated Press estimates the unfunded projects are worth nearly $6 billion, of which the state, based on history, would theoretically pay about $3.1 billion.

* And who even knows what the current need is?

The need among public schools is likely much greater than the wish-list suggests. There have been only 40 grant applications since 2011, likely reflecting school districts’ attitude that there’s no sense applying if there’s no money forthcoming.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Steve - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    It doesn’t appear that Illinois can afford much with its’ backlog of bills and pension obligations. That’s what living beyond your means does.

  2. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 12:01 pm:

    Steve, there will be a tax hike for this.

  3. - Annonin' - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 12:06 pm:

    You skipped the excellent piece about the Old State Capitol in IL Times and check the rust showing through the chipping paint at 222 S. COLLEGE

  4. - DuPage Bard - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    So property taxes and referendums aren’t covering the bill? Out here in DuPage every school district seems to be running one and many end up winning.
    Why aren’t school districts across the state doing the same? Or maybe they are and they aren’t successful?

  5. - Platon - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 12:42 pm:

    DuPage Bard, I think a lot of districts are losing the votes as property taxes are unbearable now.

  6. - Dan Johnson - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    Remember the federal government doesn’t invest a dime into K-12 capital needs. $718B proposed military budget in Trump’s latest budget. So yeah. We have the money. We just spend it on different priorities.

  7. - JS Mill - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 1:00 pm:

    =DuPage Bard, I think a lot of districts are losing the votes as property taxes are unbearable now.=

    Many districts, especially downstate, have deferred necessary maintenance for decades, all in the name of “low taxes” which did nothing to bring good jobs. This creates a situation where the buildings cannot be repaired properly for less than the cost of replacement. Unless of course repair means simply fixing the roof but nothing to keep buildings up-to-date for current needs. Buildings and building systems are well beyond their functional life.

    Pay me know or pay me later.

  8. - Platon - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 1:02 pm:

    Many of those districts have very few students. Something has to give.

  9. - JS Mill - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    =Many of those districts have very few students. Something has to give.=

    Yeah, we have heard this same refrain for decades.

    There are some that could consolidate, what do you think that will save?

    Consolidated districts get the higher paying salary schedule.

    Transportation costs increase not decrease because density drops even further.

    Communities (not administrators) want to keep their schools.

    The geography becomes a huge issue, ask Olympia schools.

    Anyone can say consolidate, but they want someone else to consolidate and they want someone else to do it.

    Ever go through a consolidation? Most don’t go very smoothly.

    But it is easy to say and the savings are never what people think.

  10. - City Zen - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 1:24 pm:

    ==Remember the federal government doesn’t invest a dime into K-12 capital needs.==

    Would you like a loan from the social security “trust fund”?

  11. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 1:31 pm:


    Districts can consolidate now. But it’s a local decision. You’ll never pass a bill that requires mandatory consolidation. People are very protective of their schools which is why you don’t see a whole lot of districts that consolidate.

  12. - JS Mill - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    =People are very protective of their schools which is why you don’t see a whole lot of districts that consolidate.=

    And it does not save much money versus putting kids on a bus even longer…usually.

  13. - RNUG - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 1:34 pm:

    == There are some that could consolidate, what do you think that will save? ==

    Are there places where you have overlaying / overlapping grade school and high school districts? That seems like low hanging fruit. Could some savings be achieved there?

  14. - JS Mill - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 1:45 pm:

    =Could some savings be achieved there?=

    Cook county has a lot of dual districts (high school districts/pre k-8 districts) but making them k-12 would create some very large districts that would be less efficient or at least less effective. Look for small districts where there are less than 500 kids and merge them with a neighbor. The geography is still small so transportation won’t break you, but more importantly the learning will not suffer. You probably won’t close any buildings but you could share services and eliminate some admin costs.

    Same goes for the collar counties.

    Outside of that you can look at places like Pontiac where they have a high school district and feeder elementary districts. One feeder, Rooks Creek, is less than 75 kids and it is close so geography isn’t going to hurt you.

    There are little pockets of schools like this around the state where smart consolidation would work.

    But when districts get geographically large there are negatives that outweigh nominal cost savings. In some cases it can cause costs to rise.

  15. - BenFolds5 - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 3:06 pm:

    JS Wouldn’t you agree that most of the studies look at the state? Meaning south of I 80 man, transportation costs are crazy. But, take some collar counties. This isn’t 2 districts that are fighting for the deficits.They are both in the “black” New Trier and Stevenson. Single districts with over 110 Mil budgets can’t consolidate with their K-8 counterparts as a savings? They can. Just those folks can and choose to pay for their separate “districts”. Maybe raise taxes enough they may consider it?

  16. - theCardinal - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 3:22 pm:

    If your going down this path for school construction a word of advice, Get your money up front, the state is notorius for comming up a little short or delaying the payment when its time to actually write the check.

  17. - Chicagonk - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 3:44 pm:

    The CSFT has been implemented by 54 counties and counting including Sangamon in November. It works well and other counties that haven’t put it to referendum yet should do it before going to Springfield looking for money.

  18. - JS Mill - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 4:10 pm:

    =Single districts with over 110 Mil budgets can’t consolidate with their K-8 counterparts as a savings? They can.=

    Show me your analysis. Tell me about your experience in K-12 operations, instruction and finance that brings you to the absolute conclusion that “they can”.

    Here is a place to look- what do the salary schedules of the feeder districts look like compared to the high school? That is important because the k-8 schedules are probably lower than the high school which means a lot of people will be getting raises and will easily offset losing a couple of superintendents.

    The list of other considerations is very long and CAN BE COSTLY. It just does not work in the simplistic fashion that some people imagine.

    Now, if salaries and benefits are similar and they are all paying for outside service that could be brought in house and shared….then you can save money.

    In addition, those communities don’t care much about consolidating. The state does not provide much of the funding either.

  19. - Platon - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 5:14 pm:

    Demoralized, just another reason Illinois is a failed state. We can’t continue our current path, it doesn’t work and it hasn’t worked. The state has a declining school age population, State government should withdraw funding of any school district that doesn’t cooperate with consolidation.

  20. - JS Mill - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 7:26 pm:

    @Platon- yeah sure, just find the votes to pass that one into law. You will not get one ILGOP vote.

  21. - It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way - Monday, Mar 11, 19 @ 8:11 pm:

    852 school districts in IL. We trail only CA, TX, and OH. Now honestly, if proponents of school consolidation are willing to walk the talk, then I’d truly love to hear the plan for a single school district in Cook County. New Trier consolidates with Evanston and CPS and Proviso and TF South and so on. One district to Cook County.

    Much as I’d love to see that (truly), it won’t happen. We know this.

    Same thing in DuPage and Lake (esp on the North Shore).

    Seriously. It’s easy to talk a mean game about school consolidation outside of Chicago metro area. There’s a little hypocrisy here, though, unless we’re truly willing to allow for as much in the region of the state that I’d assume would have the most school districts.

TrackBack URI

Post your comment... And please take a half second to come up with a nickname. It makes following the posts easier for everyone... Thanks

In other words, do your best to be civilized and smart.

* Pritzker "outraged" over "gross mistakes" by "irresponsible" DCFS contractor: "These children are our children"
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Judge knocks down Deerfield assault weapons ban
* Question of the day
* Pritzker appoints 5 new SIU trustees
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser lists
* "It’s a car in a very small tunnel"
* Illinois Family Institute calls legislator a "feticidal maniac"
* DCFS contract caseworker under investigation
* It's just a bill
* College Illinois bailout will cost state $501 million
* After Sterigenics shutdown, EPA testing shows "a pretty rapid drop" in cancer-causing chemical emissions
* Moylan's "go slow on pot" resolution reaches majority support
* Chicago isn't the outlier, Downstate is
* Dueling arguments
* Another self-own
* *** UPDATED x1 - Daniels responds *** Strip club manager's "fears" are unfounded
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...











Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller