The Illinois State Board of Education says new money from the revamped funding formula will be going out to schools by March or April. Lawmakers questions about the law and a state Senator is worried they're playing politics.
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said he's hearing confusion from schools and taxpayers in his district as to if schools will get new funding from the new evidence-based school funding formula passed last year. He was critical of state Schools Superintendent Tony Smith.
“He outlined a twofold role. One which is advocacy and another which is implementing the law,” Barickman said. “We need him to implement the law.”
Barickman said taxpayers and school districts deserve certainty.
Smith said he's certain the new funding will go out after verification of 3-year enrollment data, but they have questions.
ISBE has 20 different issues they want lawmakers to address on what Smith says are factual questions about the law, but he doesn’t think that process will hold up new school funding.
That $350 million extra will be spread amongst schools, with more going to needier schools, and that will be the base level for future years.
Last month ISBE said Illinois public schools would need an additional $7 billion on top of what they’re already getting. That would bring the total for school to nearly $14 billion in one year.
Smith said ISBE’s proposal for nearly double what schools got this year is a matter of fully funding education in Illinois.
“What would it take for every district to provide at least 90 percent adequacy?” Smith said. “So that’s what drove the math. That’s what drove the number.”
The adequacy target per pupil is $6,100. Smith said some schools are at under 50 percent of that number while others are at more than 200 percent.
Barickman said the $7 billion number “is making some heads to explode because here we are in the financial condition that exists in this state and you’ve got the state board advocating for a number, which is completely impossible under the economic conditions that exist in our state.”
Others called the request unrealistic or even bold. More discussions are expected on ISBE proposed 7 billion extra in upcoming appropriation hearings.