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dir="ltr" style="font-size: 12px;">Education advocates and lawmakers hint that they will need more funding to hit “adequacy” standards put in place by the 2017 state education funding overhaul.
Advance Illinois, a Chicago-based nonprofit, hosted a panel discussion Tuesday to talk about its report, “The State We're In 2019: A Report on Public Education in Illinois,” which compares Illinois’ public school metrics against other states.
Advance Illinois President Robin Steans moderated the panel at the City Club of Chicago. She outlined how the state had made progress in educational attainment and equity since lawmakers overhauled the state’s education funding formula.
Chicago Public School Board President Miguel del Valle said that while the change was worthy of praise, the state’s current contributions to local schools will not be enough to meet educational goals.
“While we’ve moved forward on equity, the fact of the matter is that these proficiency numbers tell us that we’re far from where we need to be on adequacy,” he said. “I don’t know that under the current...budget and what’s projected for subsequent budgets, that we’re going to get to even the level that was required, which was about $7 billion over a ten-year period.”
The change held schools “harmless” in that they would not see a loss of funding from the overhaul. It also required at least $350 million in additional funding every year from the state. In the current state budget, an increase of $378.6 million was enacted.
State Rep. Will Davis, who was an author of the 2017 funding revamp, also suggested that the same funding increase formula used in Illinois’ K-12 formula should be used for preschool and post-secondary funding.
“K-12 has given us a template of how we can start looking at early childhood and higher education,” he said. “We’ve got to be willing to say that some schools need it more than others.”
He finished his remarks by comparing Illinois’ willingness to raise taxes to fix the state’s roads to what should be a willingness to do the same for schools.
“If we can commit $800 million to fix I-80, not that it doesn’t need it with the bridge and everything, but if we can figure that out, why can’t we figure out $1 billion of new money in K-12?” he said.
Local property taxes are the primary funding source for schools in Illinois.