Special Session Called to Determine School Funding

Today Governor Bruce Rauner issued a proclamation calling for Special Session in Springfield, to further urge action on school funding reform.

SB1 is the current education funding reform bill that passed both Chambers in the General Assembly on May 31st, but since then, no further action has been taken on the bill due to a procedural move by Democrats in the Illinois Senate.

As is, schools cannot open in the fall. While $778 million in funds for K-12 education were allocated in the budget passed earlier this month, they cannot be distributed until a new evidence based education funding model is passed.

Governor Rauner has stated his plans to issue an amendatory veto of SB1, and remove the Chicago Public Schools’ pension bailout within the legislation. The bill currently gives CPS $221 million for their pension costs through the school funding formula. While other school districts are funded through the state pension code, CPS is the only school district that pays the employer contribution for their teacher pensions.

In its current form, SB1 directs 64% of all new funds for education to Chicago Public Schools, which represents $495 of the $778 million--despite the fact that CPS has only 19% of the state’s student population. The evidence based funding model uses tiers to determine the schools that are in the greatest need; money is given first to the neediest school districts. Yet because of distortions, CPS was moved to a tier one school district allowing them to get a larger share of new money.

The alternate plan to school funding reform would fairly distribute new money to all schools statewide, instead of favoring one district over all the rest. Governor Rauner recently launched a website to help calculate individual school district’s school funding under SB1124. Using this model, more funding would be given to every school district.

Special session will convene Wednesday in Springfield where lawmakers will continue to work toward an agreeable solution.

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