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Statement by Advance Illinois

The Illinois Senate Education Funding Advisory Committee (EFAC) today announced its recommendations to improve how our state funds public education. This marks an important step toward creating a new state education funding system that better supports Illinois students to achieve their educational potential.

The cornerstone of the Committee’s vision for a new Illinois education funding system is a single, simple and straight-forward funding formula that would distribute the majority of Illinois’ education dollars in a way that both attends to student needs and consistently accounts for school districts’ local property wealth. Recognizing the academic challenges that confront some students, and in keeping with current practice, the Committee recommends additional funding for low-income students, English Language Learners and students who receive Special Education services.

Advance Illinois applauds the Committee’s vision for a more equitable funding system that would correct the funding disparities that have hamstrung our state education system for decades.

“This report is the result of a bipartisan effort and deserves serious consideration from both sides of the aisle,” said former Illinois governor Jim Edgar and the Advance Illinois Board Chair Emeritus. “It should frame the conversation in the legislature about how we get all the state’s districts the resources they need to educate our kids.” 

The need for change is clear. Illinois continues to post some of the largest achievement gaps nationwide and ranks as the 49th most regressive state in how it funds public education.

“Illinois continues to suffer from some of the nation’s largest achievement gaps and while money alone can’t fix the problem, we must define equitable, sustainable solutions for our education funding crisis,” says Miguel del Valle, chair of the Illinois P-20 Council and an Advance Illinois Board member.

Importantly, the Committee addressed the pressing question of how much Illinois contributes to public education. Committee members called on the Illinois General Assembly to increase the per-student foundation level during the next five-to-seven years in an effort to reach the funding baseline of $8,672 recommended by the state’s independent funding commission, the Education Funding Advisory Board. The current foundation level is $6,119, though the state has not met that obligation in any of the past three years. 

“We have not come close to adequately funding our schools for years,” said Sylvia Puente, chair of the Education Funding Advisory Board and a member of the Advance Illinois Board. “The Committee’s acknowledgement that we need a multi-year plan to address the $2,500-per-student deficit is a step in the right direction.”

Created by a unanimous vote in the Illinois Senate last July, the bipartisan Committee – comprised of four senators from each side of the aisle – was charged with developing a blue print for a state education funding system that is more equitable, adequate, supportive of educators and focused on preparing all students for academic success.

The Committee convened across the state during recent months to hear expert testimony, listen to the input of stakeholders and discuss amongst themselves the foundational elements of a new education funding system.

Legislation is expected to be drafted based upon the Committee’s recommendations later this session. 

 “The significance of these recommendations cannot be overstated. Illinois now has a path forward to providing all of our students – no matter where they live or their socio-economic circumstance – with the education they need to succeed in today’s world,” said Robin Steans, executive director of Advance Illinois.  “We can’t act on these recommendations quickly enough.”

Read the full report: http://educationfundingreform.com/images/EFAC_Final_Report.pdf

Read a synopsis of the report:  http://educationfundingreform.com/images/Analysis_of_Education_Funding_Advisory_Committee_Report_Final.pdf

 

Biss responds to education funding reform proposals

State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement in response to the Senate Education Funding Advisory Committee’s newly released recommendations for reforming the way state resources are distributed: 

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. 

The report can be found at http://www.isbe.net/EFAC/default.htm.

 Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today issued the following statement supporting education funding reform recommendations released by Sen. Andy Manar’s (D-Bunker Hill) Education Funding Advisory Committee (EFAC). 

“These recommendations could lead to one of the most important pieces of legislation the General Assembly will see this year. We have the potential to right the wrongs in our education funding formula and direct funding toward the students who need it most, no matter where they live.  

“By creating a single funding formula, increasing transparency about how school funds are being spent, and prioritizing resources, we can take important steps toward a sustainable and equitable education system. 

“I appreciate the efforts of Sen. Manar and this committee and look forward to working with legislators and the governor to pass these important changes.”   

Simon serves as the state’s point person on education reform. In this capacity, Simon is working to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent by 2025. As chair of the 25-member Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, Simon is also working to improve the delivery of state services and education opportunities to rural Illinois.