The state of Illinois will finally begin sending local school districts more than $350 million dollars to equalize school funding.
The funds, set to go out next week, come as the result of the reform battle waged in the General Assembly over the past several years.
Illinois’ new school funding plan, approved last summer, requires calculating the exact amount each district needs to supply adequate education, and comparing that to how much money the district can raise through reasonable property tax rates.
Using this metric, more than half the districts currently flunk funding, because they can’t raise even half of what they need. But guess what: 140 districts have more than they need—more than 100 percent of “adequate funding.” A few even have more than two times what they need.
All schools will get the same funds they got last year, plus at least a few extra dollars through the equity plan. The needier the district, the more money it will get.
Unit 5 school district will get an extra $353,687, while District 87 will get $179,339.
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, called it a "new era" for school funding.
“We still have much work to do," Barickman said. "We need to get the Professional Review Panel, which is required by the new funding law, up and running so that we can study how effective the new formula is at meeting its goals. Lawmakers as a whole also need to remain committed to appropriating the necessary funding to make the new formula work.
“I also hope that the historic success we achieved with the new funding model will inspire all the members of the General Assembly to continue to work together in a bipartisan manner to accomplish great things for the people of our state," Barickman added.
People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.