Thursday, August 10, 2017

Roger Eddy:
The Time for Compromise is Now

IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy released the following statement urging compromise among legislators to resolve Illinois' school funding delay.

For the first time in the recent history of this great state, General State Aid payments that were scheduled to be paid in August to support opening Illinois school districts were not made. This has to be extremely sad and disappointing to the thousands of volunteer school board members, dedicated administrators, caring teachers, and devoted school service professionals responsible for the education of 2 million students.

The consequence of this delay threatens the delivery of educational services to all students. Schools are due to open in the next week or two, which means that the uncertainty of vital state funding hangs over the quality and level of educational programming. For some districts, this delay threatens the opening of schools; for others, it may affect how long their schools can operate once they do open.

Innocent children will now be affected in a very real way, even though there is no excuse for putting them in the middle of this artificial crisis. The fact is, that the funds necessary to provide these payments have been appropriated by statute and are available for distribution if only members of the General Assembly would come to a compromise on how these funds are to be dispersed through an evidence-based funding model.

For years, education stakeholders have worked on a new, more equitable funding formula known as the “Evidence-Based Model.” There is widespread, bi-partisan agreement that this type of funding model, coupled with a tiered distribution method that sends available funds to the districts most in need, is a vast improvement over the current funding formula. Of course, the devil is always in the details. But those details can be worked out in a compromised manner, if there is the political will to do so.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the details that can and should be easily compromised are caught up in what has become a toxic, political gridlock with non-stop partisan bickering. The current environment of governing by crisis, dueling press conferences, and holding funding hostage to promote political favor directly affects every student. Imagine the excitement of the kindergarten student heading to their first day of class being crushed because school doesn’t open. Or what about the high school senior preparing for their final year only to have their future put into jeopardy because their school can’t afford to stay open.

It is long past the time for statesmanship and leadership in the General Assembly to put an end to this nonsense, and to be focused on the next generation and not the next election.

For the sake of each and every student, I am strongly urging you to contact your representatives; implore them to come to a compromise that implements an evidence-based funding model; and get your tax dollars flowing to back your schools.

Thank you.