In act, i downstate and suburban schooldistricts are receiving a “ree lunch,” it is onthe order o a “kid’s meal.” In contrast, thoughChicago Public Schools enroll roughly 18% o Illinois’ public schoolchildren, the state has been“super sizing” their value meal.Through a variety o special considerations andcases, the Chicago Public Schools actuallyreceive nearly $800 million in “ree lunch money”that is not available to their counterparts insuburban and downstate Illinois.The net result is a signifcant budget disparitythat treats Illinois’ schoolchildren dierentlysimply based on where they happen to live. Apreschool child in a downstate school districtwill receive ewer education service dollarsrom the state than the child would in Chicago. A developmentally-disabled child living in asuburban community will receive less unding orhis education rom the state than would a similarchild in Chicago.Perhaps most unair o all, an impoverished childin Edwardsville must be educated or barely 15%o the state support available to a needy childin Chicago living under comparable economiccircumstances.
Why This Examination is Important
It is not the intent o the Senate RepublicanCaucus to ignite a regional war over schoolunding airness. The goal is not to pull thefnancial rug out rom under the Chicago PublicSchools—we recognize that all school districtsin Illinois are acing difcult fnancial challenges.We simply want to provide a balanced picture o where unding equity stands today. An honest, objective review o school undingpolicies in our state is long overdue. Illinoiscontinues to distribute school unds usingoutdated ormulas, with at least one datingback to the 1970s. The state should undertakea thorough examination o how we divide upthe dollars that go to our schools. We wouldwelcome such a discussion.However, the urgency to fx the state’s retirementsystem unding is too great to risk having thosereorms get bogged down in a protracteddebate over school unding airness – even i thediscussion is long overdue.
Six Areas of Funding
State support o school unding in Illinois allsunder six general categories:
Foundation Level Grants;
PTELL (Property Tax Extension LimitationLaw) Adjustments;
Corporate Personal Property TaxReplacement Grants;
Special Education Grants; and
Early Childhood Education Grants. A brie look at each o these categories revealshistorical trends and ormula anomalies thatsteer extra dollars to the Chicago Public Schoolsystem and away rom downstate and suburbanschools.
Foundation Level Grants
Arguably, the Foundation Level Grant is the mostequitable and air ormula distribution in thestate. Its purpose is to assure that all schoolshave access to a basic “oundation” level o support deemed necessary to educate a child inIllinois.It is a resource “equalizer,” which takes intoaccount the property wealth o school districtsand attempts to even out or equalize the unding