Governor Bruce Rauner on Tuesday announced the formation of a state commission to reform the public school funding formula in Illinois.
The bipartisan Illinois School Funding Reform Commission will be chaired by Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis. Each legislative caucus will appoint five members to the commission, and the governor will make five additional appointees. Rev. James Meeks, chair of the Illinois State Board of Education, will be a facilitator for the commission and a liaison to ISBE.
The roster of individuals serving on the commission was not announced at Tuesday's Chicago press conference. [July 13 update] The list of appointees to the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission is below.
The commission will have a goal of presenting funding reform recommendations by February 1, 2017, in order to draft legislation for the spring session to take effect for Fiscal Year 2018.
“I am optimistic that we can come to some good conclusions,” said Rauner, who noted the gap of per-pupil spending between wealthy and poor districts, and that the United States is “losing the race” on education.
“We have to win this race,” he said.
Both Rauner and Purvis indicated that recent reform work would play a role in the commission’s plans.
“There are many groups out there who are experts in the area of school funding reform,” Purvis said. “We are not going to restudy this issue, but to build on work done.”
Purvis cited the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance, which includes IASB along with Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Association of School Business Officials, and the Illinois Principals Association.
"Obviously, based on the number of existing working groups and task forces regarding funding, a new formula is critical work,” said IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. “We are pleased that the governor and Secretary Purvis have mentioned our work and the Evidence Based Model. Our Association and others are ready and willing to help shape this new funding future for Illinois schools."
Rauner also indicated some direction for the commission’s work.
“My personal bias is toward what is called evidence-based funding,” he said. “We want to use evidence and data from other states.”
Illinois Vision 20/20, under its pillar of Equitable and Adequate Funding, recommends an evidence-based funding model and states, “Fully funding districts based on the model would ensure adequate funding for districts to locally determine and deliver appropriate and effective educational experiences to every student. For greatest efficiency, districts should be allowed flexibility to allocate state funds throughout their local district allowing them to better align resources to student needs."
“Everything is on the table,” Rauner said, referring to what options the commission will consider. He added that pension reform will need to be considered. He added, “In context of significant reforms, I am open to new forms of revenues.”
Illinois School Funding Reform Commission (2016)
Beth Purvis, Secretary of Education (Commission Chairperson)
Evelyn Sanguinetti, Lieutenant Governor
James Dimas, Secretary of the Department of Human Services
Jennifer Hammer, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
Jodi Scott, Regional Superintendent of Schools for Henderson,
Knox, Mercer, and Warren Counties
Rev. James Meeks, Liaison between ISBE and Commission
Senate Republican Appointees
Jason Barickman, Bloomington
David Luechtefeld, Okawville
Dan McConchie, Lake Zurich
Karen McConnaughay, West Dundee
Sue Rezin, Peru
House Republican Appointees
Avery Bourne, Pawnee
Sheri Jeisel, Winthrop Harbor
Dwight Kay, Edwardsville
Bob Pritchard, Hinckley
Christine Winger, Bloomingdale
Senate Democrat Appointees
Andy Manar, Bunker Hill
Kimberly Lightford, Maywood
Iris Martinez, Chicago
Daniel Biss, Evanston
Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Shorewood
House Democrat Appointees
Barbara Flynn Currie, Chicago
Fred Crespo, Hoffman Estates
Will Davis, Hazel Crest
Rita Mayfield, Waukegan
Emily McAsey, Lockport