school funding

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

The state budget impasse has forced schools to come up with plans for how they’ll open next year without state funding.

    

It’s a decision which schools that operate year-round have to confront sooner than most.  

Some school districts designate just a handful of buildings to operate year-round, but in Rock Island, every school is on that schedule.

The school board has considered cost-saving measures, like eliminating athletics and band, as well as debt options like opening a line of credit.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

More than a dozen school superintendents have written a letter to Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner accusing him of playing politics with education funding.

School leaders including from Chicago, Peoria and East Moline sent the letter Monday to Rauner. They say schools won't open on time and call Illinois' funding formula the nation's most "regressive." 

They also claim stand-alone school funding bills Republicans introduced at session's end continue unequal spending.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois Senate has approved a second method for revamping school funding just days before the Legislature's scheduled adjournment.

The proposal by Democratic Sen. Kimberly Lightford of Maywood would rewrite the state-aid formula beginning with the 2017-2018 school year with an interim funding and fairness boost for his fall. It passed 31-18.

The interim plan would establish a funding "foundation" for each district similar to Bunker Hill Democratic Sen. Andy Manar's plan the Senate OK'd this month.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois superintendents warned of school closures and staff layoffs as they implored state lawmakers to pass a budget to give them certainty for the fall.

Education funding is the only portion of the budget for the current year that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed, meaning schools have largely been spared the consequences of the budget impasse.

But superintendents from districts including Kankakee, Moline, and Streator expressed worry Tuesday that there's no agreement for next year yet.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

A $454 million bill to increase funding for financially struggling Illinois colleges and universities has cleared the state Senate.

Lawmakers approved the bill on a near unanimous vote and sent the measure to the House on Thursday.

Democrats who control the Legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner have been unable to agree on a budget since July 1, and higher education institutions have been forced to lay off staff.

Last month, lawmakers used $600 million left over in an education fund to help colleges make it through the summer.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Five Illinois schools will receive more than $20 million in federal grants over the next five years to help improve student performance and ensure students are better prepared for college.

State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith announced the School Improvement Grant winners yesterday.

They are: Matheny Elementary in Springfield, Sandoval High School in Sandoval, Gage Park High School in Chicago, Gordon Bush Elementary in East St. Louis and Kennedy Middle School in Rockford.

AIRSS

Illinois lawmakers return to work this week, and one of the decisions they face is whether to pass a school funding reform plan.

David Ardrey, executive director of the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, says it’s important to keep the issue in the forefront until the state’s school funding system is changed.

“I don’t think this conversation is going to go away,” Ardrey said. “Will it pass this year? I don’t know. Will it pass in this state some day? I think it will.”

Illinois lawmakers are also considering proposals to rewrite the way the state funds public schools. 

Marguerite Roza directs the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University.

Roza gave the State School Board two keys for a good funding formula: Keep it generic, and tie every dollar to students instead of programs.

Board members plan to discuss Roza’s recommendations at their meeting next month. 

A new plan to change the school funding formula is emerging in the legislature. Jason Barickman, a Republican state senator from Bloomington, plans to introduce a bill, which he believes will be supported by Governor Bruce Rauner.

“Think about something else he said yesterday, in the context of his criminal justice reforms. In announcing those reforms, the governor embraced an evidence-based model, and that’s what this is.”

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

It'll take until mid-May -- as the legislative session is drawing to a close -- to learn which schools will win, and which will lose, under a proposed new way to fund education in Illinois.

The effort to change how Illinois decides how much state money it gives each district is rooted in the belief that the current formula is outdated, and that it helps perpetuate disparities between schools in wealthy areas and poor ones.

The proposed new method would make funding determinations based on need.

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