Senate Bill 1: School Funding Reform

UPDATE as of 8/2/2017: Here is an analysis of the "bailout" claim and a flow chart to outline possible next steps for SB1. 

FACT-CHECK: DOES THE PROPOSED ILLINOIS SCHOOL FUNDING BILL BAIL OUT CHICAGO’S TEACHER PENSIONS?

UPDATE as of 8/1/2017: Governor Rauner has issued an amendatory veto of SB1. You can read his message here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4Bi-iePG1O6RkU1alFvTFR0eTBEODJLcVZlRF9sZzVsWm9R/view

The status of SB1 is critical because the FY18 budget for Illinois determines district funding through a formula. If SB1 is not adopted, the needed formula to calculate how much each school district receives is not identified. Consequently, the State Board of Education cannot distribute the primary source of funding to school districts.

Why We Need School Funding Reform

Illinois currently does the worst job of targeting state money to the poorest students - we spend only $0.81 on low-income students for each dollar spent on non-low-income students. Education stakeholders and members of both political parties agree the current General State Aid formula is not acceptable and has disadvantaged, at-risk students throughout the state for far too long.  There is broad consensus that an Evidence-Based Model (EBM) as provided in SB1 is the best formula to replace the General State Aid.

What SB1 Proposes To Do

The basic premise of SB1 is to focus state dollars on the neediest districts while ensuring no district will have the rug pulled out from under them. Going forward, all NEW state funding will be targeted at the least adequately funded schools. A district that can currently afford to meet all their students' needs will get very little NEW state money, but they will have the security of maintaining the level of state funding they currently receive - in other words: no school district will lose money under SB1.

SB1 recognizes the fact that it takes more resources to educate students that start at a disadvantage and replaces the current funding system with one that calculates money provided to each district based on the needs of the district's students. Districts with higher percentages of at-risk students will receive more state resources.

SB1 and Chicago Public Schools

SB1 is NOT a bail out of Chicago Public Schools. Of the 852 school districts, 267 will receive more per pupil than CPS, and 164 of those districts are in represented by Republicans. SB1 will level the playing field for CPS compared to other districts regarding pensions. Until SB1, CPS has paid the cost of pensions, that for every other district, is covered by the state contribution. Also, CPS won't receive this pension funding until all school districts receive adequate funding under the SB1 formula. CPS will also no longer receive rolling block grants; they will be required to join the application pool like all other districts.

Who Supports SB1

Bipartisan education groups such as the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education, Advance Illinois, Stand for Children, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Latino Policy Forum, and many, many more have come out in strong support of SB1.
 

The Status of SB1

Currently, the bill has passed the House and Senate. The Senate has not sent the bill to the Governor yet. Governor Rauner has repeatedly threatened to amendatory veto the line item for Chicago Public Schools. This means he would remove that portion of the bill and leave the rest intact. This would be a devastating blow to CPS and cause a severe funding shortage for Illinois' largest school district. Not only is it short-sighted and unethical to leave children with an underfunded, sub par education, it also speaks to upholding the promise of a pension. If we stand firm that pensions are a promise, that means all state pensions must be protected. Once we begin to pick and choose which pensions we will defend, it's only a matter of time until we lose all of them.

The Governor has called Special Session for the House and Senate for July 26, 27, 28, and 31st. You can watch House sessions here and the Senate sessions here.

If you would like to voice your stance on SB1, please call or email the Governor's office.

Springfield: 217-782-0244
Chicago: 312-814-2121
Electronically Submit Your Opinion