Saturday, May 14, 2016

Alliance Legislative Report 99-45

TWO WEEKS LEFT BEFORE ADJOURNMENT

May 13, 2016


With 13 days left before the scheduled adjournment of the Illinois General Assembly session, there is still no State budget for the current fiscal year, not to mention Fiscal Year 2017. A group of lawmakers have been discussing ways to solve the current State budget impasse and have reportedly sent what is being labeled a “first step” to the Governor and legislative leaders.

The legislature adjourned for the week on Thursday and return to the Capitol on Tuesday.

SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA ON FRONT BURNER

Revisions to the school funding formula were the topic of conversation in the Capitol this week. On Tuesday, the Senate approved SB 231 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) on a vote of 31-21-3 and sent it to the House of Representatives. Thirty votes were necessary for passage. This is the school funding reform bill that revises how General State Aid (GSA) money is distributed to school districts. The fate of SB 231 is unknown in the House as Speaker of the House Michael Madigan has established a task force that is studying various school funding reform plans. The bill is currently still in the House Rules Committee and has not been assigned to a committee for hearing.

The sponsor has been working on this concept for approximately three years and introduced Senate Bill 16 two years ago. The basic premise of the funding formula change is to drive state funding to those school districts in the most need. This would be done, according to proponents, by replacing the current General State Aid formula and collapsing it into a single, simpler formula. It uses weighted measures in the foundation level so certain characteristics and students would generate increased funding. Additional weighting, for instance, would be added for low-income students, English language learners, and special education students.

The estimated amounts each school district would receive under the plan, calculated by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), can be found by clicking here.

Also this week, discussion of the proposed Evidenced-Based Funding Formula, as outlined in the Vision 20/20 plan, took place in two different venues. This funding approach is now being vetted by a much larger coalition of educational organizations than just the original Vision 20/20 associations.

On Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Mike Jacoby, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, and Brian Battle, a school board member from Barrington CUSD 220, testified before the House Education Task Force regarding the Evidenced-Based Funding model. This hearing was for discussion only and no votes were taken. On Wednesday, Jacoby and Dr. Brent Clark, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, testified before the ISBE. Again, this hearing was for informational purposes only and no substantive action was taken by the Board. Senator Manar also presented testimony on SB 231 to ISBE Wednesday.