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.

Make this logo your Facebook profile picture.

Financial impact of proposed legislation

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
– John Wooden

As a public school superintendent, I am non-partisan and publicly a-political. From time to time I post information about pending or actual legislation affecting our public schools. In Illinois, school funding is a regular source of debate, review, analysis, and concern. Right now there is proposed legislation (SB16) that would change the way the state funds for public schools would be allocated.

With this communication I am sharing factual information with the intent of sharing, educating and communicating.

Last July, the Illinois Senate Education Funding Advisory Committee was tasked with recommending ways to improve public education funding in Illinois. The result of the task force was the creation of Senate Bill 16 (SB 16). If enacted into law, SB 16 will make sweeping changes in how the state funds education. SB 16 does not increase the level of education funding, but changes the way in which limited state funding is apportioned among school districts. All state funding, with few exceptions, would be combined under one funding formula.

Generally, school districts with higher assessed property values (including District 109) will receive much less state funding. Other districts will receive much more in state funding. This is an attempt by the state legislators to provide greater equity among school districts across the state. The Bill does not address the current issue of unfunded obligations to school districts that has occurred in recent years.

How Will SB16 Impact District 109?
The Illinois State Board of Education has calculated the amount each school district would receive next year if SB16, as written, becomes law. Deerfield Public Schools District 109 would lose over 50 percent of its state funding – or $1.3 million per year. The cuts will be phased in over a four-year period. Beginning in year five, there will be a full $1.3 million reduction in funding to the District.

District 109 spends approximately $15,800 per student; only $900 per student currently comes from the state of Illinois in the form of special education reimbursement and general state aid. If SB 16 becomes law, revenue from state sources will be just 2% of operating revenues. It is obvious that with the loss of $1.3 million in funding, District 109 will be put in a position of reducing programs and services to our students. These cuts will likely impact the District’s classrooms and result in a reduction of teaching staff leading to larger class sizes with less personalized instruction for our students.

Many North Shore residents pay high property taxes in part to access high-achieving schools. This proposed law would undermine suburban taxpayers and would significantly reduce the state funding to these high-achieving schools. SB16 will pull state funding away from schools that are successful and would in no way guarantee greater success for schools with high poverty levels. SB 16 takes from some to give to others. A far better solution would be for Illinois to fully fund education, rather than ranking 50th in the nation in education funding.

SB 16 comes at a time when many school districts anticipate a further hit from the state. The pension system that funds teacher retirement is woefully underfunded and attempts may be made to shift the state’s burden to local districts. Deerfield Public Schools would face an additional $2.4 million cost, which would be even more impactful than SB 16.

SB16 has already passed the Illinois State Senate. Click to see how the Senators voted.

What Can You Do?

The House is expected to vote on SB16 in November, following the fall election. If you are concerned about the dramatic effect on Deerfield Public Schools District 109 and the students we serve, voice your opinion on this important education bill. Use the Illinois State Board of Elections search engine to find your Representative (you’ll need your full ZIP+4 zip code). Here is a full list of Illinois Representatives.

School Funding Legislation

Illinois state seal - click to see all state seals

Recently a group of area K-12 superintendents and business officials from the area (North Shore and NW Suburban areas) met with State Senator Julie Morrison and State Senator Daniel Biss along with two representatives of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Senators Morrison and Biss invited us to attend in an effort to get feedback on a proposed piece of legislation called SB16 sponsored by Senator Andy Manar. The bill sounds good as it calls for a weighted student formula to allocate state funding across the state. What’s bad is that it seems to fly in the face of the Illinois Constitution’s declaration in Article X that “…the State has the primary responsibility for financing the system of public education.”

And what concerns us in Deerfield and the general local area is that SB16 presents a scenario where districts like ours LOSE scarce state dollars. Under the proposed legislation, proposed by the way, without clear financial impact models from ISBE, could cost DPS109 more than $2,000,000 each YEAR. Currently the Board of Education in DPS109 has been able to balance the budget, maintain facilities, support exemplary education, and actually lower the property taxes (this year) because of the current system of funding.

No one argues that the current system of funding is adequate or equitable, but those of us paying high property taxes will argue that any funding scheme from Springfield that cuts state funding does not take into account the effects or impacts of such bills on local taxpayers and local business. During our meeting wiht the senators and the ISBE officials we asked how a bill for education funding could come forth without review from the Education Committee, we were told that this was “fast track” legislation put forth to force a conversation. We applaud the senators for reaching out to we local educational leaders – I only hope our meeting was not too little too late!

I’m proud to represent our school District with other local leaders and legislators. I encourage readers to stay informed – school funding affects us ALL!


Link to ISBE presentation on SB16