Position in Brief
The League supports a system of high quality elementary and secondary schools for all children in Illinois, which provides for local control of school program and budget within minimum program requirements set by the State. The State should provide leadership to local communities for program development and should set standards for recognition and accreditation of schools.
The effectiveness of educational programs should be evaluated regularly. The League favors minimum standards for graduation and promotion of students.
The League supports increased professionalism for teachers including stringent teacher preparation standards, comprehensive teacher and principal evaluations, changes in tenure and increased teacher compensation.
The State should assume the major responsibility for funding public schools and guarantee an adequate level of financial support.
League believes that charters should be established by local school boards and that the Illinois State Board of Education should continue to monitor the progress of existing charter schools before supporting further expansion.
For information about the League's Charter Schools position, please see the Charter Schools issue page.
Why are education funding and fiscal reform important issues for the 2015-2017 biennium?
Governor Rauner signed HB 3199 into law requiring charter schools to comply, under Illinois law, with the same truancy and absenteeism polices as the public schools.
The newly-appointed Illinois Commission on School Funding Reform has met twice and is currently in fact-finding mode. One of the funding models being considered is “Evidence-Based Funding”, which appears to be consistent with LWVIL school funding positions.
Budget: Public Act 99-524 (SB 2047): While most categories in the budget were losers or only given funding for a 6 month stop gap budget, Illinois schools came out the winner. An additional $361M was added to General State Aid. Governor Rauner has established a blue ribbon commission to study the funding formula and recommend changes to it by February 1, 2017.
As of May 19, we still need LWVIL members to contact their State Senators and ask them to oppose HB696. It would institute a Property Tax Freeze which would be devastating to school funding in many districts.
LWVIL sent out a TFA to members asking their legislators to oppose HB 5918 which would increase the length of time a charter could operate between renewals from 5 to 10 years. The League is watching other bills, most notably SB 231, the Better Funding for Better Schools Act.
The Illinois League does not have enough positions which align with Vision 20/20, so we will not endorse it. We are considering whether parts of the education position need to be updated.
The Senate introduced and passed SB 318 to freeze property taxes for two years, setting up schools for a significant loss of revenue. SB 318 also abolishes the current foundation funding formula as of 2017. It has moved to the House.
Senate Democrats have introduced legislation to restore Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants to college students. Lack of MAP funding currently affects 130,000 students in IL.
Schools are currently receiving 92% of their appropriated funding but are unsure of whether the state will have the ability to fund schools through the end of the year.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is taking steps to have a legislative proposal ready for the 2016 spring session to create ‘Districts of Innovation’ designed to allow schools to use resources in a way more suited to their populations.
While the school funding portion of the budget signed by Governor Rauner increased funding by $207 M, the budget request exceeds available funding and schools are projected to be prorated at 92% of General State Aid funding.
Charter schools are in the news: the US DOE has granted Illinois $42,500.000 for 48 new charters over the next 5 years. This will only cover start-up costs, not operating costs, which means that operations will need to come from an already challenged funding system. Three Chicago charter schools will be shuttered at the end of the academic year due to poor performance and a fourth will be considered for closure by the CPS board in December. Meanwhile, the Noble Network charters plan an 8 high school expansion utilizing an $8.4 million federal grant to replicate services.
SB16, which would change how schools are funded in Illinois, has become an important topic of discussion now that the Illinois State Board of Education has released a report showing the impact on individual districts around the state. There are definite winners and losers in the proposed changes, which makes this a highly charged discussion.
LWVIL will support SB16 with the caveat that, while reform is desperately needed to improve adequacy and equity in funding to meet the needs of all Illinois students, LWVIL believes that SB16 is incomplete reform, and specifics about increased funding must be more certain before we can support it fully.
There is no legislation to report at this time. General State Aid would need $5B to bring it up to recommended levels. Instead, funding is the same as it has been since FY 2009 and is pro-rated to 89% of appropriated amounts. When the income tax rate returns to 3.75% in January, FY 2016 will lose $5B, leaving schools and other critical services with even fewer funds to meet operating costs. LWVIL submitted an opinion piece on school funding to the Rockford Register Star.