The Illinois Senate voted yesterday, May 27, to pass Senate Bill 16, Amendments 3, 5 and 6. The bill now moves to the House.

If enacted into law, SB 16, as amended, will make sweeping changes in how the State funds education. The bill does not increase the level of education funding, but changes the way in which limited State funding is apportioned among school districts. Generally, school districts with higher assessed property values will receive much less State funding. (See link to article below). 

The Illinois State Board of Education has calculated the amount each school district would receive next year if SB 16, as amended, becomes law. District 65 would lose 85% of its State funding or $6.5 million per year. School District 202 would lose 81% of its funding, or $2.2 per year. The cuts to each District will be phased in over a four-year period.

Administrators of each District have said the loss of State funding would be “devastating.”

If passed into law, the cuts in State funding would come at a time when legislators are planning to pass on the State’s cost of funding teachers pensions to school districts. Under SB 16, as amended, the anticipated shift in pension costs would be subsidized by the State for school districts that have lower amounts of assessed valuations of property within their borders. Districts with higher assessed valuations of property, such as Evanston/Skokie, will apparently bear the full burden of any shift of pension costs.

There is no provision in SB 16 that would allow school districts that are subject to State-imposed property tax caps, such as Districts 65 and 202, to increase property taxes over and above the caps to cover the loss of State funding.

State Senator Daniel Biss (Evanston) voted for SB 16, as amended. The Senate vote was 32 yeas, 19 nays and 6 present.  

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...