Monday, April 10, 2017

Downstate school districts file lawsuit to require adequate funding

On Wednesday, April 6, 17 downstate school districts filed a lawsuit against the governor and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) claiming the state has not done its part to adequately fund education. At a press conference announcing the filing, the districts and their administrators further stated that Illinois is not meeting its required constitutional duty to provide a “high-quality education.”
David Lett

In an accompanying news release, David Lett, superintendent of Pana CUSD 8, said, “The 17 districts that have joined this case so far did so because we are all at a breaking point. We as school administrators and superintendents have been forced to increase class sizes, lay off qualified teachers, and eviscerate social services for students, all because the state is not living up to its constitutional obligation to adequately fund the Learning Standards it mandates.”

According to the complaint, students and schools are held accountable to meet key benchmarks as outlined by the Illinois Learning Standards. However, the state has never provided enough additional money to meet the increased mandates to achieve the higher standards.

The Illinois Constitution, Article X, Section 1, requires that the state “provide for an efficient system of high quality education.” Those filing the lawsuit argue that because their districts have less property wealth, the state of Illinois should create an evidence-based system to determine the additional financial aid necessary to meet the requirements of the Learning Standards.

Further, the plaintiffs state that as the standards have become more rigorous over time, the state has failed to provide an adequate level of assistance to pay for the resources necessary to achieve the higher academic requirements.

According to the press release, “ISBE has adopted and held all school districts accountable to meet the Learning Standards, disregarding the districts that lack sufficient local finances to cover the costs of special programs, curriculum, and professional development that the Learning Standards inherently require.”

To read the lawsuit in its entirety, click here.

View the video below, courtesy of the Belleville News-Democrat, to hear reaction from Grant CCSD 110 (Fairview Heights) Superintendent Matthew Stines. Grant 110 is party to the lawsuit filed against the state and ISBE.

The 17 districts that have joined the lawsuit are:

  • Bethalto CUSD 8
  • Bond County CUSD 2 (Greenville)
  • Bunker Hill CUSD 8
  • Cahokia CUSD 187
  • Carlinville CUSD 1
  • Gillespie CUSD 7
  • Grant CCSD 110 (Fairview Heights)
  • Illinois Valley Central CUSD 321 (Chillicothe)
  • Mt. Olive CUSD 5 
  • Mulberry Grove CUSD 1 
  • Nokomis CUSD 22 
  • Pana CUSD 8 
  • Southwestern CUSD 9 (Brighton)
  • Staunton CUSD 6 
  • Taylorville CUSD 3 
  • Vandalia CUSD 203 
  • Wood River-Hartford ESD 15