Illinois has what’s known as a “foundation level”, which is the minimum amount a school district is expected to spend per pupil. It’s a way to make sure the poorest districts get a certain level of state support. The number has gone up through the years to just over 6-thousand dollars. But there are calls to raise it much higher.
WUIS’ Sean Crawford spoke with State Superintendent Christopher Koch, who says it’s just one of many financial dilemmas for education in Illinois….
School districts across Illinois would receive the full funding required under statute next school year if the General Assembly approves the Illinois State Board of Education’s budget proposal as part of the state budget beginning July 1. An ISBE analysis shows that the City of Chicago Public School District 299 should have received an additional $130 million in state aid under full funding this school year and other districts were also due millions that have gone unpaid because of a shortfall in state funding. The K-12 education budget has been cut by nearly $1 billion during the past several years.
“State law requires that we use a specific formula for distributing state aid funds to districts,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “But for the past two years, those payments have been prorated due to cuts in the state education budget. As a result, districts have had to make difficult decisions and pass on the cuts to make ends meet. The majority are now deficit spending and just treading water. We need to reverse the trend of slashing education budgets if we want to position our students and state economy for success in the future.”
The State Board of Education last month approved its 2014 budget recommendation calling for an $875 million increase above the current year in order to better support schools and more than 2 million public education students. As part of the budget-making process, staff produced a spreadsheet looking at current year General State Aid (GSA) claims, or what is owed to districts under the statutorily set formula, versus the prorated payments that districts are receiving this year. To review the analysis, visit http://www.isbe.net/budget/FY14/fy13-gsa-comparison.xlsx.
The following 12 districts would see the biggest gain in state revenue under full formula funding as calculated for this current year, Fiscal Year 2013.