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On Feb. 3, Senator Andy Manar filed the text of Senate Bill 1, which is the new vehicle to revamp the way schools are funded in Illinois. It is a revised version of 2014 Senate Bill 16, which became defunct at the end of 2014. Like SB16, SB1 does not provide that the State will contribute any additional amounts to education funding. Rather, it revamps how the State would divide up a small pie.
SB 1 uses SB16 as its base, and it makes some changes. SB1, however, does not include many of the changes that the RoundTable advocated for in a series of editorials last year. For example, in calculating a school district’s available resources to pay for its students’ education, SB1 does not take into account $3.6 billion in federal aid that is distributed to school districts in the State.
In calculating a school district’s theoretical available resources in the form of property tax revenues, SB1 fails to take into account the full impact of property tax caps, although it does raise the floor from 80% of equalized assessed value to 85%, which should be of some help. In calculating the allocations to students from low-income households, SB1 does not take into account depth of poverty.
While basing distributions in large part based on a school district’s equalized assessed value, it makes no attempt to ensure that the equalized assessed value of individual school districts in Cook County are in fact equivalent to other school districts either in Cook County or in the State.
SB1 adds a provision that uses the Comparable Wage Index developed for the National Center for Education Statistics to take into account salary differences in different school districts in the State. The formula to do this, however, only partially takes those differences into account.
In addition, SB1 provides for an “adequacy grant,” but the formula for calculating that grant does not take into account differences in salary levels in different school districts in the State.
The Illinois State Board of Education has not yet calculated the impact that SB1, if enacted, will have on Districts 65 and 202. Until it does so, there are too many moving parts to estimate the impact the bill will have on Districts 65 and 202. Under SB16, ISBE calculated that District 65 would lose about $6.5 million in funding on an annual basis and District 202 would lose about $2.2 million annually after the phase-in period.
One key factor that will impact the calculations is that ISBE used the 2010 property tax levy in estimating the impact of SB16 on schools districts. Since 2010, District 65’s and 202’s equalized assessed value of property dropped by $906 million, or by 27%. Under the formula of SB1, this will reduce Districts 65’s and 202’s available local resources. How this plays out with all the other moving parts in the formula remains to be seen.