Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Lottery contributions flat;
new management begins

Although revenue contributions to schools from lottery sales rose from $668 million in 2014 to $692 million in 2016, the total is essentially unchanged when adjusted for inflation. In September 2017, Illinois announced a new management firm to run the state lottery, with the aim of generating more than $1 billion per year for schools and other projects by the end of a 10-year deal.

Unfortunately, funding for Illinois public schools requires more than 15 times as much in state money as the lottery brings to state coffers each year. The lottery cannot realistically offer a school funding rescue, largely because it is just not set up to boost school funding totals.

While the lottery did produce $691 million for the public schools in Fiscal Year 2016 — the most recent year for which audited data are available — that total paled in comparison to the $31.3 billion in state, federal, and local revenues needed to fund more than 3,500 public elementary and secondary schools. More detailed funding data is available on the ISBE website

The trouble is lottery funds do not supplement overall school funding, but are instead used to offset other state sources. When lottery profits are deposited into the Common School Fund (CSF), that accounting maneuver reduces the amount of money that schools will draw from other state sources.

What is worse, the amount of lottery profits deposited into the CSF is held to a fixed level. Since March 1, 2010, annual transfers to the CSF are required by law to equal the amount transferred in FY 2009, adjusted for inflation, according to the 2017 tax handbook for legislators, published by the nonpartisan Illinois Legislative Research Unit.

The funds deposited to the CSF were fixed as part of the state’s plan to contract with a private firm to manage lottery operations. It was hoped that a for-profit company would manage lottery sales, increasing revenues and reducing costs. To date it hasn’t worked out that way.

The Illinois Department of Revenue first contracted with Northstar Lottery Group, LLC, for management services in July 2011. After Northstar allegedly missed revenue targets, the state announced plans to terminate the contract with the company. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office reached a termination agreement with Northstar that would remove the firm as the games’ private manager as of January 1, 2017, or when a replacement firm was chosen.

The Illinois Lottery then announced the replacement firm, Camelot Illinois, on Friday, October 20, 2017. The agency’s contract with Camelot Illinois to become the lottery’s private manager was effective January 1, 2018. Camelot is a subsidiary of Camelot Group, which runs the lottery in Great Britain.

Regardless of how well the new management firm performs, schools cannot expect funding miracles from the state lottery as it is currently operated.

To understand more about the Illinois lottery and its very limited impact on public school funding, read IASB's publication “Where Does the Lottery Money Go?” 

Monday, January 15, 2018

New Equity Event will ask the ‘what, why, and how’

The Illinois Association of School Boards has announced a new initiative to address the “what, why, and how” of equity issues in education.

The Equity Event, to take place on April 28 at the Hyatt Regency in Lisle, will present the opportunity to 
The event will take place at the Hyatt Regency
in Lisle, 1400 Corporetum Drive. Source: Google Maps.
  • Understand the various equity issues present in public education (including race, socio-economic, gender, etc.);
  • Learn critical steps for developing and implementing an equity approach in school board work;
  • Gain insight and practical applications from Illinois school districts actively working on equity issues; and
  • Be inspired by one man’s personal journey of resilience, determination, and vision.

Speakers at The Equity Event will include Dr. Heather Hackman, speaking on “The Urgency of Now: Developing and Utilizing an Equity Lens for 21st Century Education.” Consultant Corrie Wallace will address the question “It’s 2018...Why are We Still Talking about Race?” and Steve Pemberton will bring “One America: The Micro Cultural Changes to Bring the ‘United’ Back into U.S.A.”

This new event is offered exclusively to school board members and superintendents from IASB member districts. There is no charge to attend. Attendees will earn one credit in the LeaderShop Academy program.

The Equity Event will take place at the Hyatt Regency in Lisle, 1400 Corporetum Drive, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 28, 2018. Online registration is required and will be available at on February 1, 2018. For more information, contact Peggy Goone,, 217/528-9866 ext. 1103.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Two member districts added

Two new member districts joined IASB in 2017: Ohio CCSD 17, located in the Association’s Starved Rock Division, and Homewood-Flossmoor CHSD 233, located in the South Cook Division.

That brings the number of IASB member districts to 845, or 99.4 percent of the public school districts in the state. There are just five non-member districts among the 850 public school districts in Illinois.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Alliance Legislative Report 100-50

Governor Bruce Rauner, Monday, issued an amendatory veto to SB 444, the bill that would make technical changes to the funding provisions of the new evidence-based school funding model. Though the governor’s proposed changes had nothing to do with the funding distribution model to public schools, the bill will now require additional legislative action that will further delay the issuance of any funding based on the new distribution formula.

The governor’s amendment has to do with the Invest in Kids Act, which authorizes tax credit scholarships totaling up to $75 million for low-income students to attend non-public schools. But, according to the governor’s veto message, “the current drafting of the law will stand in the way of effectively and fairly implementing the very program it creates, and should be cleaned up along with the other fixes to Senate Bill 1947.” The following is the amendatory veto message explanation:

“As written, the Act requires non-public schools to be “recognized” by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). This language creates an eligibility mandate from what is otherwise a voluntary distinction for which schools may apply. Eligibility should be expanded to also include schools that are registered with ISBE, a necessary precursor to becoming “recognized.” While it is prudent to require compliance with ISBE measures that protect the health, safety and well-being of students, the current timelines to become recognized will exclude at least 36 schools that are still in the process of registering for and moving toward recognition; the ramifications of this initial exclusion could potentially last for two years. By including those who have registered with ISBE as well as those already recognized, the law will better maximize the number of schools and therefore the number of children who can benefit from this promising new program.”

Though the governor states his concern that 36 schools could be excluded from the tax credit program, Alliance research shows that there are 893 non-public schools that are “registered” in the state, with 635 of these schools being “recognized.” That would seem that an additional 258 schools would be affected by the amendatory veto.

What is the Difference between Recognized and Registered?

According to the Illinois State Board of Education website: “To be registered means that ISBE is officially aware of the existence of the nonpublic school, ISBE has assigned to the school an ID number (known as an RCDT Code), and ISBE has given the school access to IWAS. There is a brief application for registration that collects basic information about the school, its enrollment, and its staff, as well as some other data.”

“A recognized school has been registered with ISBE for at least one school year, it has filed an extensive application dealing with school policies, curricula, personnel, and student health and safety. In addition, the school has been visited by a small team to confirm this information; the school is revisited by a team every few years. Fundamentally, a recognized school is a school acknowledged to be in substantial compliance with various requirements of state statute and regulation.”

ISBE goes on to state that “it should be noted that recognition (a matter of compliance) is different from accreditation (a judgment about the quality of instruction). Accreditation involves an intensive examination of some or all of a school’s curricula, the qualifications of its staff, the appropriateness of its library holdings, etc. ISBE does not accredit any school—accreditation is accomplished through independent third parties. A school may be accredited simultaneously by more than one accrediting body at the same time. A school may be recognized and not accredited; likewise, it may be accredited and not recognized.”

Funding Distributions to Public Schools

Since the new evidence-based funding formula is so significantly different than the previous funding formula, ISBE had a monumental job of establishing a new process to accurately distribute funding to public schools. So upon enactment of the new formula in SB 1947, it was going to take months to actually transmit funds to school districts. Then, with the additional changes in SB 444, new distribution runs would have to be completed. Why were those changes made in SB 444? ISBE states that, “while it was working to implement the new funding Act as passed by the General Assembly, it was discovered that the adequacy targets of 178 school districts would unfairly include local resources that those districts are not able to access – to the sum of $37.8 million. According to the sponsors of the initial legislation, this was not the intent of the legislature.”

To correct this drafting error, ISBE requested the changes included in SB 444 “and requested that the governor sign the bill that was approved by the General Assembly as soon as possible.”  The amendatory veto “has caused a disruption for the agency as it continues preparations for tier funding distribution as quickly as possible. If PA 100-465 is not changed in accordance with SB 444, there will be further disruption and confusion for all 852 school districts.”

The new Evidence-Based Funding formula creates a distribution system where each district’s state allocation is directly related to and dependent upon the needs of all 852 school districts. According to ISBE, “if the changes included in SB 444 are not enacted, 178 school districts will see a reduction in funding based on their inability to access local resources. The State Board is continuing to gather and clean data needed to distribute tier funding as we wait for the General Assembly to act on this amendatory veto. Time is of the essence to ensure that what districts receive from the state this year is equitable and fair.”

Next Moves

The General Assembly will have to take up the governor’s amendatory veto upon its next meeting. The House of Representatives is scheduled to convene on Jan. 23 and 24; both chambers are scheduled to convene on Jan. 30 and 31.

If both chambers accept the governor’s changes, the bill will be enacted immediately with the original provisions of SB 444 plus the governor’s changes. If both chambers vote to override the amendatory veto, the bill will become effective without the governor’s changes. The entire bill would be dead if either of the chambers fail to act or if the chambers take differing action.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Illinois school leaders to attend
NSBA Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C.

A large Illinois delegation will be attending the
 Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. from February 4-6.
School board members and administrators from 13 Illinois districts will join with educational leaders from across the country at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. from February 4-6.

The event aims to assist participants with developing effective advocacy strategies to engage policy makers and champion the interests of local public schools. Programming includes interactive panel presentations, breakout sessions, nationally recognized speakers, and networking forums to share tips and best practices.

Wrapping up the final day of the Advocacy Institute, attendees will have an opportunity to lobby their own members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Meetings with the Illinois congressional delegation will allow school officials to discuss the direction of public education, the protection of local control, and budgeting decisions that impact the state education system.

“There are a lot of important discussions taking place at the national level that have the potential to impact education here in Illinois,” said IASB Governmental Relations Director Susan Hilton. “This event provides an opportunity for our local school leaders to share how the decisions made in Washington affect what is happening in our local schools.”

Thirty-one board members and superintendents will be representing Illinois from the following districts: Aptakisic-Tripp SD 102, Cairo SD 1, CCSD 168 in Sauk Village, Dolton East SD 149, Dolton-Riverdale SD 148, ESD 158 in Matteson, Lake Forest SD 67, Lincoln ESD 156, West Harvey-Dixmoor SD 147, and Woodland CCSD 50.

IASB will send officers and staff, including President Joanne Osmond, Vice President Thomas Neeley, Past President Phil Pritzker, Executive Director Roger Eddy, Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm, and Governmental Relations Director Susan Hilton.

Additional information about the Advocacy Institute, registration, and the event agenda can be found on the NSBA website.