SB1 – Evidence Based Funding for IL?

“We have to be able to count on each other doing what we have agreed to do.”
– Unknown

In Illinois, school funding is a major issue of inadequacy and inequity. The Illinois Constitution, in Article X, states:

    A fundamental goal of the People of the State is the
educational development of all persons to the limits of their
capacities. The State shall provide for an efficient system of high
quality public educational institutions and services. Education in public schools through the secondary level shall
be free. There may be such other free education as the
General Assembly provides by law. The State has the primary responsibility for financing
the system of public education. (Source: Illinois Constitution.)

Sadly in our school district 94% of financing for the public education comes from local sources – primarily the local property taxes. We must get the funding system back into a sustainable process.

With this blog post, I’m keeping you informed about legislation, politics, and a Vision 20/20 inspired bill called SB1. Read more if desired from the CTBA (Center for Tax and Budget Accountability).

In the State of Illinois the budget passed – this is the first state budget in two years – this is a “big deal”. For public education, though, the school funding “nuts and bolts” legislation is not yet approved and school starts in less than a month!

The following news article is written by Jessica Handy of Stand for Children. The mission of Stand For Children Illinois is:


We make that happen by:

  • Empowering everyday people to make a difference for their kids, schools, and communities.
  • Championing a bold and bipartisan approach to politics.
  • Advocating for lasting policies that improve education.


Confused About Budget & Funding Reform Link?

Current Events & NewsLegislationSchool Funding |07/07/2017

Jessica Handy
Government Affairs Director
Jessica works with parents, legislators, and other stakeholders to push for policy that puts children first.

Confused About the Link Between the Budget and School Funding Reform?

It all goes hand in hand: you can’t spend money you don’t have through a formula that doesn’t exist. That’s why in order to fix our worst-in-the-nation funding formula, ensure schools open this fall, and put our education system on a path of renewed stability, we need to enact three bills:

1. Senate Bill 1, to fix our broken school funding system.

2. Senate Bill 6, to appropriate the money to pay for schools (among other things).

3. Senate Bill 9, to support the revenue needed to pay for the budget.

About SB1: The Funding Formula

SB1 is the school funding formula overhaul that passed the House and Senate on May 31. School leaders and advocates from across the state support the Evidence-Based Funding Model created in the bill as a once-in-a-generation chance to fix Illinois’s outdated and inequitable school funding system. The Governor has said he will veto the bill, even though all schools win and the framework aligns with recommendations of his own commission.

SB1 is the only funding formula that has passed the state legislature in 20 years. Multitudes of others have been filed but failed, including a recent one that would require at least six committee and floor super-majority votes to get as far as SB1. As a practical matter and as a lead publication has said, that last-minute attempt “appears DOA.”

About SB6: The Budget

SB6, which was enacted into law with the General Assembly’s override of the Governor’s veto, authorizes state spending for the fiscal year that just started. It includes increases in the education budget, but overall, the budget spends about $2.5 billion less than current spending levels. The education budget is consistent with the school funding structure in SB1. Almost all of the state’s appropriation to schools would flow through the new, integrated Evidence-Based Funding Model. That’s $6.7 billion. Without an Evidence-Based Funding Model in place to fund the budget, schools would be out that $6.7 billion.

The reality is that last year, the legislature essentially froze the General State Aid formula in place and sent new school funds through a temporary “equity grant.” Our main funding formula has been put on hold for over a year now. Last year’s budget took a small step toward improving school funding equity, but also created the situation we’re in this year where there is no active, functioning school funding formula. Both the Republican-drafted budget in SB2214 and the Democrat-drafted budget in SB6 appropriated school funding through a new evidence-based model. It is critical that SB1 be enacted so that schools get the funding they need to open their doors this fall.

SB9: The Revenue Bill

SB9 restores most of the income tax increase that lapsed two and a half years ago. This bill is the hardest part of the package, but one that 72 courageous and compassionate representatives voted to pass this week (71 representatives voted to override the Governor’s veto and enact it into law). No one likes tax increases, but the prevalent kick-the-can-down-the-road attitude in Illinois has led to years of spending without having money in the bank to pay for it. Many who voted for SB9 are fiscal conservatives who understand that the interest on the debt that’s growing every day will necessitate bigger tax hikes the longer we wait.

With $15 billion in unpaid bills and almost three years without a full budget, this is the critical piece of the package that will finally provide the stability that our schools need for long-term planning. Categorical payments are months delayed. General State Aid payments had been made on time, but a recent court ruling put in serious jeopardy the state’s ability to even continue making those payments in a timely fashion. And only 144 of over 850 school districts have 90-days cash on hand.

Without the revenue bill, there is no doubt in my mind that some schools would be unable to keep their doors open this year. The schools most impacted by this delayed payment cycle are the neediest districts.

The Conclusion

The budget only works if we have the evidence-based model in place. The evidence-based model only works if we have a budget to fund it. Schools can’t count on state payments for the evidence-based model or anything else unless we have revenue in place to pay for it. These three bills are all interconnected.

If your state senator or representative voted for SB9, say thanks! They stepped up and put kids ahead of politics. But while you’re at it, remind them that the job isn’t done until SB1 also becomes law. You can visit our action center to help get SB1 over the finish line here.

#PassILBudget United Effort Across IL

For almost two years, Illinois has operated with just a partial budget for education and a “stopgap” budget for most everything else, leading to cuts at local government entities, community service organizations and education agencies that support our families and communities. Even though education has been funded, schools and students still suffer due to the lack of certainty, inequitable funding and current unpaid bills from the state.

Let’s work together to #PassIllinoisBudget.

Illinois Budget Impasse FAQ

Q: How long has Illinois been without a full state budget?

A: As of April 24, 2017 we have operated more than 22 months without a full state budget.

Q: What does the budget impasse mean?

A: The country’s fifth-largest state has been operating with continuing appropriations and court-ordered spending, while the pile of unpaid bills grows to nearly $13 billion. The state has approved a partial budget for education and stopgap or band-aid measures for most everything else. This has meant frozen and reduced budgets at local government entities, community organizations, and education agencies that aim to support our families and all sectors of society. Without a budget we all suffer.

Q: How does the lack of a state budget impact the services provided?

A: School districts launched Pass Illinois’ Budget! in late April when school chiefs should already know their financial revenue situation for Fiscal Year 2018. Like any business, school districts need to know several months – preferably more – in advance how much money they’ll receive so that education leaders and elected board members can make thoughtful spending decisions, from hiring staff to allocations for curriculum, maintenance and repairs, and much more for the coming school year.

Q: Where does Illinois school funding currently come from?

A: The state’s education budget is primarily made up of local revenue, primarily property taxes, state funds, and federal funds. 

Q: What percentage of public school funding is Illinois responsible for and how much does it cover?

A: The state, by constitutional mandate, has the primary responsibility for funding its public schools but has never come close to covering even half the cost. Illinois ranks 50th in the nation for providing state funds for education.

Q: What is the problem with the current school funding formula?

A: The current funding formula does not adequately and equitably fund education in Illinois.

Q: Have there been any proposed solutions to fix the school funding formula?

A: There are some proposed solutions, but all require the state to pass a budget with revenue to support it.

Q: Why is the state behind on payments to school districts and which payments?

A: The state has delayed payments because there is not enough revenue being received by the state to cover the expenditures that are due. These unpaid bills are part of what’s called “Mandated Categoricals” and include funding  for special education, bilingual education, transportation, and other important services. 

Q: What are school leaders doing about the state’s financial situation?

A: More than 360 superintendents (as of 5 p.m. April 21)  are calling on the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Rauner to do the following:

  • Immediately, and with bipartisan support, end the state budget impasse.
  • Improve the state’s education funding formula and invest in students and schools, including higher education institutions.
  • Pay school districts what they are owed this year.

Q: What can parents of public school students and other Illinois residents do?

A: Speak up! Contact your local legislator. To find your local legislator, visit: and ask them to make these three requests a priority:

  • Immediately, and with bipartisan support, end the state budget impasse.
  • Improve the state’s education funding formula and invest in students, including students in higher education institutions.
  • Pay school districts what they are owed this year.

Spread the word with friends and on social media with the hashtag #PassILBudget.

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Information from Illinois Vision 20/20 – links and video on finance

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes…and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt


I have written about the Illinois Vision 20/20 initiative over the past few years in an effort to share policy information and proposed legislation that will benefit Illinois public schools and Illinois public school children. What I like about the initiative is that it is “for” as opposed to “against”, and the issues are relevant, timely and meaningful. The vision involves support for highly effective educators, 21st Century learning, shared accountability, and equitable and adequate funding.

For links to previous blog posts, click: A little bit more about Illinois Vision 20/20, and Taking a Stand for Public Education-Illinois Vision 20/20

A hot topic is school finance and the Illinois Vision 20/20 team has produced a video about the funding model supported and proposed by the coalition.

It will take a great deal of action and effort to amend the Illinois School Funding Model. It’s essential for all of us to learn, listen, study, and get involved as appropriate to improve structures and systems in place.

The Vision 20/20 initiatives include free curriculum resources via iTunes U, click this link to visit the 21st Century Learning Center


Why do we have a day off on Monday, March 7? Pulaski Day

“A strenuous soul hates cheap success.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

In DPS109 we have a teacher’s institute half day tomorrow, Friday, March 4, 2016, and we have a “day off” on Monday, March 7th. Why do we have a day off you ask … here’s why:

Retrieved from:

Casimir Pulaski Day in the United States

Casimir Pulaski Day is a legal holiday in Illinois, in the United States, on the first Monday of March. It celebrates the birthday of Casimir Pulaski, a Polish born soldier who contributed to the United States’ independence.

Print of Casimir Pulaski charging with cavalry
Pictured above is an image of Casimir Pulaski charging with cavalry.

Celebrate Casimir Pulaski Day

Casimir Pulaski Day is included in classroom studies in some schools in Illinois. Some classes engage in historical activities related Casimir Pulaski’s role in the American Revolutionary War in the late 18th century.

The day is also celebrated among Americans in other states, including Polish-American communities. Various events may include group gatherings, street parades, and public ceremonies.

Public Life

Casimir Pulaski Day is a legal holiday in Illinois so some schools, libraries, banks and courts are closed.

Federal and state offices, as well as many commercial operations, usually remain open. People wishing to travel via public transport in Illinois on Casimir Pulaski Day may need to check with the local public transit authorities on possible timetable changes.

About Casimir Pulaski Day

Casimir Pulaski (Kazimierz Pułaski) is known for his contributions to American independence. He was known as the “Father of American Cavalry”. He was born in Warka, Poland, on March 4, 1747. His father was one of the founding members of the Confederation of Bar, which begin in 1768 and took up arms against Russia, which controlled Poland at the time. After his father’s death, Casimir took over military command and his brilliance earned him an impressive reputation. However, it was not long before he was accused of being involved in a plot to kill the king and was forced into exile.

Pulaski travelled to Paris and met Benjamin Franklin, who enlisted him to help in the American Revolution in North America. He soon joined George Washington’s army. His first military engagement against the British troops was at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. After a dashing charge at Brandywine that allowed the American army to escape from the British, he was rewarded with a commission as brigadier general and the command of all American cavalry.

In 1779 Pulaski and his troops broke the British siege of Charleston, South Carolina. He was then sent to Savannah in a joint campaign with French allies. Seeing the French attack failing, Pulaski went into battle to rally the soldiers and was hit by a shot from a cannon. He died two days later (October 11, 1779) and was buried at sea. The United States Congress passed a joint resolution conferring honorary US citizenship on Pulaski in 2009, sending it to the president for approval. President Barack Obama signed the bill on November 6, 2009.

Public Information from the IL State Board of Education

“Nothing matters more than the ownership of a vision.”
– Bill Hybels

This post is a press release from the Illinois State Board of  Education regarding the release today of all school district report cards in the state. From time to time I use the blog to share public information as another avenue to inform the public on the macro/grand scale of public education in Illinois.



For Immediate Release
Oct. 30, 2015

2015 Report Card released with new features to better reflect school climate and student progress

Changes underway to report the first Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) continues to enhance its Report Card with new metrics and features available this year that show a more complete picture of school climate and students’ progress toward college and career readiness.For more information on the 2015 Report Card and its new metrics and data, visit the ISBE Hot Topics page at

“Illinois’ award-winning Report Card is a model for other states to provide in-depth, meaningful data about school learning environments in an easily accessible format,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “It’s a valuable tool that helps parents and community members understand and evaluate a school’s landscape, climate, academic performance, strengths, and opportunities.”

The 2015 Report Card at currently includes information about postsecondary enrollment, freshmen on track, principal turnover, teacher retention, the Illinois 5Essentials Survey, and district-level financial information.

imagesReport Card data involving student academic growth and achievement on the state assessment is not yet available as Illinois awaits district-, school-, and student-level results for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test. The Report Card will be updated with district- and school-level data later this school year.

The 2015 Report Card is also available to the media at

In addition to enhanced returning features, this year’s Report Card includes the following new metrics and features:

  • Percentage of Eighth Graders Passing Algebra I: This metric reports the percentage of students who have passed Algebra I by eighth grade. Courses taken during any summer session are NOT included in this calculation. A student enrolled at any Illinois public school on or before Sept. 30, 2014, and on or after May 1, 2015, is assigned to the last district enrolled for the school year. This metric, as required by Public Act 097-0671, provides a more detailed look at students’ math comprehension before they enter high school.
  • Enhanced Educator Data: This feature reflects data gathered from ISBE’s Employment Information System (EIS). Several educator characteristics are now viewable on the Report Card in new displays, including teacher demographics, teacher retention, pupil-teacher ratio, teacher education, teacher salary, principal turnover, pupil-administrator ratio, administrator salary, and pupil-certified staff ratio. This is the first year the Report Card will offer completed educator data from the 2013 and 2014 school years. This metric was implemented in response to Section 10-17 a (2) (E) of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/10-17a).
  • Health and Wellness Metric (Coming Soon): This metric, which will be updated on the Report Card site later this year, will report the average number of days that each student attends physical education class per week. The metric is in response to theEnhance Physical Education Task Force, which recommends enhancing physical education to increase student wellness, and Section 10-17a (2) (B) of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/10-17a).

ISBE staff is also modifying how the Report Card will display results from the first administration of the new PARCC test. Students in grades 3-8 and some high school students took the PARCC test beginning in March 2015. In September, the state released preliminary statewide results for the PARCC test. Once roithe district- and school-level results are available, parents and community members will be able to see how many students performed at each of the five performance levels in English language arts and math by grade level in elementary school and by course level in high school.

The 2015 PARCC scores are taking additional time to produce as Illinois educators and their colleagues review students’ work to determine the performance level threshold scores. The new PARCC test replaced the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE). As such, the PARCC results will be represented on the Report Card separately from the previous ISAT and PSAE data. The 2015 PARCC scores provide a new baseline for measuring student progress moving forward. Therefore, the PARCC test results cannot be compared to ISAT and PSAE scores.

Additional information about how to access and interpret PARCC scores on the Report Card will be released later this year. More details about what to expect from the PARCC results are available on ISBE’s new PARCC Place website and posted on the Hot Topics page

ISBE has produced the School Report Card since 1986 for every public school and district in Illinois. In October 2013, ISBE unveiled a new, redesigned Report Card that provides a more complete picture of student learning and school climate in a user-friendly format. In 2014, the Education Commission of the States (ECS) identified Illinois as having the best report card out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for its accessible accountability reports.