Illinois School funding formula

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Nearly 100 organizations are joining together to push
Illinois lawmakers to pass a school funding reform proposal in the spring.
 
 Funding Illinois' Future members include community foundations, civil rights organizations, school officials, and business and education reform groups statewide. All support the passage of a school funding proposal sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill.
 
 The legislation would overhaul Illinois' dated school funding formula, first put in place in 1997. While there's wide agreement that the state's funding

Marilyn Escoe and her children — Kayla, Kyla and Kyle Escoe and Kaleyah Wesley — were homeless until November.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

For Kaleyah Wesley, thoughts of her family’s life in a Chicago homeless shelter made it difficult to focus on school, particularly in math, the subject she found hardest.

The then-sixth-grader woke at 5 a.m. on weekdays to take a pair of trains from the north side Rogers Park shelter to her school in the North Lawndale neighborhood, which is on the west side. She says she had a negative attitude that rubbed off on her three younger siblings.

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  Governor Pat Quinn's candidate for lieutenant governor says Republican Bruce Rauner's budget plan would mean bad news for schools in Illinois. Democrat Paul Vallas says Rauner's promises to both put more money into schools while also cutting property taxes is unfeasible.

Vallas says Rauner's plan to roll back the state's income tax to three percent would create a $4 billion hole in Illinois' education budget. Vallas says that translates to nearly 28,000 in teacher layoffs.

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  As students across Illinois begin the new school year their schools are using funds that rely heavily on property tax wealth. But supporters of a new plan say now is the time to change that.

Illinois' school funding formula works like this: school districts collect property taxes from their residents, then depending on how property-wealthy or property-poor an area is, the state pitches in its share. That frequently means poorer districts stay poor because the state can't give enough, and wealthier districts remain wealthy.

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  This November, Illinois voters will be asked whether millionaires ought to pay more in taxes. The plan is being sold as a way to raise money for education. But opponents see more political motives.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the measure at a suburban elementary school on Tuesday.

The so-called "millionaire's tax" would rake an additional three percent off personal income greater than a million dollars ... with that money going exclusively to schools.

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WUIS is asking the candidates for Springfield mayor to talk about education issues facing the community. Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says he's concerned that most new single family homes in the area are in suburban school districts.   He says an increase in funding for District 186 is probably needed, but says the school board needs to build credibility first.

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Illinois has broken its streak of late grant payments to schools for the first time since 2007.
 
 State Superintendent Christopher Koch praised the news in a letter to school officials dated July 1.  But Koch warned them not to bank on the same thing
happening next year.
 
 Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office says timely payments for specialized grants and programs in 2014 are due to an influx of $1.3 billion in revenues the
state hadn't originally budgeted for.  
 
 Next year's $35.7 billion state budget signed by Gov. Pat Quinn banks on

Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Legislature adjourned its spring session having passed a new state budget and other key measures, but leaving some business undone. Here's a look at what passed and what didn't:  
     BILLS SENT TO GOV. PAT QUINN:  
Budget: A roughly $35.7 billion budget for 2015 keeps funding flat for schools and most state agencies. Majority Democrats acknowledged the budget is ``incomplete'' because it postpones tough votes about whether to slash spending or find new revenue until after November's election.  

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  The Illinois Senate has passed a plan to overhaul the way schools are funded. But the proposal has a long way to go before becoming law.

After months of negotiations and with just four days left on the General Assembly's spring calendar, the measure was deemed "ready for primetime." The plan would direct state funding to more impoverished schools and divert funding from schools in wealthier areas.

Supporters of the plan, like Sen. Mike Noland (D-Elgin) say this would help remedy inequity in school funding.

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  While the state's budget for next year is still in flux, Republicans in the Illinois Senate say they have a new plan that would fully fund public schools. They say it's something that would help schools now, unlike a competing Democratic proposal that's still building support.

Illinois has been shortchanging schools for several years. Instead of funding them at the full amount required by law, they've been cutting — it's at 89 percent this year. That's because mandatory spending on things like health care and pensions has been choking out other priorities.

House Speaker Michael Madigan wants voters to weigh in on his so-called "millionaires' tax" at the November elections.

The referendum would ask if income greater than a million dollars should be taxed an additional three percent, with the money going to schools.

Earlier this year, Madigan tried to put this before voters as a constitutional amendment, but he says there wasn't enough support in the House.

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Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

The way schools are funded in Illinois has been getting a lot of attention lately.  The WUIS Education Desk presents a discussion entitled "Transforming Our Schools:  A Panel On Education Funding" held recently in Decatur.   The panel includes State Senator Andy Manar, Warrensburg-Latham Superintendent Kristen Kendrick, Decatur Public Schools Director of Business Affairs Todd Covault, Center for Tax & Budget Accountability Director Ralph Martire and moderators Brian Byers of WSOY & Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS. The event was coordinated with the Education Coalition of Macon County.

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  An Illinois House panel Wednesday signed off on a budget for the state's public school system.

The $13 billion dollar appropriation is almost a billion more than this year's budget, reversing the state's trend of cutting funding for K -12 education.

Listen To State Week - May 9, 2014

May 10, 2014
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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Getting attention is a plan to change  school funding that  would shift a larger share of the state funding to poorer school districts.  And scrutiny of Governor Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative continues.

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  Spring is budgeting time for schools in Illinois. Over the past few years, school officials in poorer districts have had to cut staff and programs in order to balance their checkbooks.

Declining state funding, coupled with decreased property values have resulted in a double-whammy shortfall, especially in districts that aren't property-wealthy to begin with.

Many local school districts would be 'winners' under a plan to overhaul how schools are funded in Illinois. That includes Springfield District 186.

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Springfield District 186 is endorsing a change in state funding that would benefit the district.  Area Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat, is pushing the idea to re-work how the state doles out money to schools.  Manar says it would provide more equity between wealthy and poor districts.

Springfield public schools would receive nearly 6 percent more under the change. A statement from District 186 says an increase in funding would allow teaching positions to be restored and technology upgrades. It also says it could help avoid future budget cuts.

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  Downstate schools would be the primary winners under a proposed school funding overhaul before the General Assembly. A report from Illinois' board of education could lead to a regional divide when it comes up for a vote.

Illinois' public school system relies heavily on property taxes, often meaning the quality of a student's education will depend on his or her zip code.

But a proposal in the General Assembly would completely change the state's complicated funding formula.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As the Illinois General Assembly girds for what everyone hopes will be the final month of its spring session, the spotlight is on a handful of high-profile issues, topped by crafting a budget for the 2015 Fiscal Year that starts July 1.

Key to budget-making, of course, is whether lawmakers heed Gov. Pat Quinn’s call for keeping in place current income tax rates, now scheduled to roll back on January 1. Allowing the rates to drop dramatically would lead to “extreme and radical cuts” in education and other core state services, the governor warned in his March budget address.

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  Members of the General Assembly this spring are grappling with whether to change the way schools are funded in Illinois. With just a month of session left, the plan's sponsor is altering his strategy, in hopes Republican opposition will fade into bipartisan support.

Senator Andy Manar wants schools to receive state money based on the needs of their students ... not the wealth of local property taxpayers. So, the Democrat from Bunker Hill has proposed an overhaul of Illinois' complicated school funding formula.

Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers are considering a major change to the way local schools get money from the state. But information about how individual school districts would fare in the new system won't be ready until just before the end of the spring legislative session.

Illinois' schools are primarily funded by local property taxes, which means that there's a big disparity in how much money is spent on a student depending on her zip code.

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  New data suggests just how big a hit most school districts would take if Illinois' income tax rate rolls back as scheduled at the end of the year.

Illinois' budget could play out a lot of different ways. But under one scenario -- the one Gov. Pat Quinn says will be the case if tax rates aren't kept at five percent -- kindergarten through high school classrooms across Illinois will get $450 million dollars less from the state.

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  As Illinois navigated the economic downturn, lawmakers made lots of cuts -- including to early childhood education.

Advocates say over the years, that cut off 25,000 kids from access to preschool.

Business leaders say it's time to restore the funding, in the name of economic efficacy later on.

A new report from Cornell University claims that for every dollar invested in early childhood programs, the local economy recoups $1.94.

Host Jamey Dunn and guests Charlie Wheeler (UIS) and Patrick Yeagle (IL Times) discuss two constitutional amendments headed for the ballot: voting rights & victim rights, the death of Madigan's millionaire tax, Senator Manar's school funding proposal, and Rauner and his run in with Bill.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, a proposal for a state constitutional amendment on voting rights, a proposal for a graduated tax rate, and suggestions for a pension change for the city of Chicago.

Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois

    

Critics of the way Illinois funds schools say it's wrong that the quality of a child's education is based largely on her zip code.

That's because schools are mostly funded by local property taxes. While Illinois takes that into account when determining how much state money to give each district, it's not the predominant factor.

A new proposal, backed by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, would make local need the number one test.

A group of Democratic lawmakers Wednesday introduced a long-awaited piece of legislation that would dramatically change the way schools are funded in Illinois for the first time since 1997. The sponsors call the measure the most comprehensive way to ensure equity across the state but say there's still work to do in gaining broad support on the regionally divisive issue.

  Governor Pat Quinn is selling his budget plan — with its extension of Illinois' income tax increase — as a way to better fund schools. But that boost doesn't come right away.

During his budget address, Gov. Quinn introduced big plans for education: modernizing classrooms. A "birth to five" early learning intiative. And more money for elementary and high schools.

"Over the next five years, my plan calls for the biggest education investment in state history," he said. "Every child should have an excellent school."

Notice he said "over the next five years."

Brian Mackey/WUIS

  All four of the Republican candidates for governor have said they will make education funding a priority if elected, but they face an uphill battle finding the money to send to schools. Each of the contenders has an unique solution for fixing education funding in Illinois.

First, some background: Illinois is ranked last in the nation when it comes to how much the state kicks in to public education.

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Many people are aware that the Illinois Lottery helps fund schools. But just how much do the proceeds actually help? Well, that's what we aimed to find out:

    

Most of the money for the state's public schools K-12 come from local sources, like property taxes. The state contributes a large portion as well, and the lottery profits are part of that, but just how much? To find that out, our first stop is the Hometown Pantry at the intersection of Edwards and MacArthur in Springfield.

  Illinois schools have seen state funding cut again and again in recent years. A Democratic lawmaker wants to change how that money is distributed. But it remains to be whether they can get more money in the system.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) says inequality is basically guaranteed by Illinois' complicated education funding laws. That's because it's based on property taxes, so schools in impoverished areas can struggle to get by.

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