School Funding Reform Agreement Reached in House

The Illinois House of Representative approved a historic school funding reform bill, which will more adequately fund school districts state-wide. 

The legislation, SB1947, utilizes the Evidence Based Model as the funding formula to distribute funds to all 852 school districts in the state.  Under this model, funding is given to the neediest school districts first—those that are the furthest away from their adequacy target.  No school district loses any money under this model, and it prioritizes funding for the state’s most impoverished schools and students.

The minimum funding level remains at $350 million per year, yet it will eventually be split to include $300 million for the tier funding system and $50 million to fund a property tax relief pool, which will help lessen the property tax burden at the local level for high-taxes, low-wealth school districts.  The adequacy target for each school helps determine funding, and assesses the social and educational needs of each student.

SB1947 is different from previously discussed school funding legislation—SB1—in that it removes the Chicago Public School’s pension costs from the school funding formula and instead appropriates this through the pension code.

State Representative Steve Andersson supported the legislation.  “Coming to a bipartisan agreement is never easy,” said Andersson. “This agreement was a true compromise and is a win for everybody, especially for the future of our children in Illinois who will have better educational opportunities under this plan.”

There is also significant mandate and property tax relief included in SB1947, which gives more local control to school boards to decide the requirements for physical education, driver’s education, and property tax referendums.  A private school scholarship tax credit is also included, that is donor based and designates $100 million for a scholarship program with a 75% tax credit for all donors. 

The bill passed the House with bipartisan support, and 73 members voting in favor of the measure. 

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