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Board will also use hearings to gather feedback on the state’s education finance system

SPRINGFIELD, IL – State education leaders once again urge local community members to weigh in on what education needs should be a priority as they prepare the Fiscal Year 2015 K-12 education budget. The Illinois State Board of Education is also encouraging citizens to share their opinions and ideas regarding the state’s current funding formula as the Board works with a Senate committee tasked with evaluating the formula and education funding.

ISBE’s Finance and Audit Committee will host the first of five public hearings immediately following the Oct. 23 Board meeting at Carbondale Community High School in Carbondale. The Board will submit its FY 2015 education budget recommendation by January to the Governor and General Assembly.

“One of the Board’s crucial roles is to be a strong advocate for sufficient funding for K-12 education and ensure each and every student in the state is prepared for the rigors of college and careers,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “At a time of renewed interest in examining how schools are funded in Illinois, the Board believes that significant changes are needed to improve the quality of education for the state’s two million public school students.”

In addition to developing the FY 2015 state education budget, the Board is assisting the Senate Education Funding Advisory Committee as it works to study the current method of distributing state funding to school districts. The Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, and Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, aims to propose a state education funding system that provides adequate, equitable, transparent and accountable distribution of funds to school districts that will prepare students for achievement and success after high school. Testimony from the FY 2015 budget hearings regarding the funding formula will be shared with the Senate committee as it works to recommend a more equitable method of distributing available resources to schools. The committee is charged with having a proposal ready for the full General Assembly by next February.

State Board’s education funding principles:

The State Board believes that any recommendations for changing how education is financed should be measured against five key principles:

  1. Adequacy — provides a level of funding sufficient for a high quality education.

  1. Simplicity — provides districts a predictable, understandable revenue stream that is used to maximize student outcomes.

  1. Transparency — is easily accessed and understood by all citizens.

  1. Equity — begins with everyone contributing a minimum tax rate and adjusts for student need by weighting the formula to allow for additional resources to address impediments to student achievement.

  1. Outcome-focused — encourages student growth in learning.

“We look forward to working with lawmakers to develop a new funding formula that meets all five principles and best serves students and taxpayers,” said Jim Baumann, Chair of the ISBE Finance and Audit Committee. “Currently, Illinois continues to rank near the bottom of the nation in terms of state financial support for elementary and secondary education.”

Inequities exist as student funding and local tax rates vary across the state. Illinois’ Operating Expenditure Per Pupil can range from $6,016 to $25,289, depending on where a student resides, while local tax rates can fluctuate from 2.3 percent to 15.3 percent of property value, depending on where a taxpayer’s home is located.

Recent Budget History

Meanwhile, the ISBE has continued to advocate for increased state funding in recent years. The Fiscal Year 2014 state budget saw a nearly $140 million increase over the previous fiscal year, making it the largest budget for education the State Board has received since Fiscal Year 2009. The FY 2014 State Budget for Pre-K-12 education totals nearly $6.7 billion, an overall increase of $137 million from Fiscal Year 2013 appropriation levels. Much of that increase went toward funding General State Aid (GSA). Still, the state saw a $165-million reduction in General State Aid between FY 2009 and FY 2014. As a result, GSA is being significantly prorated for another year, this year by about 89 percent.

The GSA formula supports local school district general operations. Central to the GSA calculation is the “Foundation Level,” which is intended to represent the minimum level to adequately fund the education of a single pupil in the Illinois K-12 public school system. That Foundation Level has been set in statue at $6,119 per pupil since 2010. In recent years, however, funds appropriated for GSA have fallen short and districts have not received full reimbursement.

Between FY 2009 to FY 2013, the state education budget experienced an overall drop of $852 million. Most budget experts agree that the increase to the FY 2014 budget was the result of a one-time unexpected increase stemming from a change to a federal law.

The Board, aware that districts are implementing new initiatives to improve student and teacher performance as well as seeing an increase in students from low-income families, will continue to advocate for more education funding. The state saw level funding in FY 2014 in Early Childhood, Bilingual, Career and Tech Ed and Mandated Categoricals.

Budgeting for Results

Consistent with The National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting principles, Illinois requires state agencies to use a ”Budgeting for Results” model to establish spending priorities, meet goals and deliver excellent services and value to taxpayers. To meet the Budgeting for Results requirements, budget hearing participants are once again asked to provide the following information when presenting their FY 2015 budget requests to the ISBE Finance and Audit Committee:

  • Outcomes: What outcomes will the funding allotment achieve?

  • Measures: What are the measurable results of these outcomes?

  • Value: What is the value of the outcomes?

  • Historicals: What outcomes have been achieved in the past?

  • Moving forward: How does your organization plan to improve the value of services it provides using funding and other resources?

Budgeting for Results calls on every state agency to make the case for its budget based on its ability to successfully deliver results and value to Illinoisans.

State K-12 Budget Hearings Schedule

Those who are unable to attend one of the five public hearings are encouraged to email any guidance or feedback to ISBE at isbefy15@isbe.net. The public budget hearings for FY 2015 will be conducted at the follow dates and locations:

· Wednesday, Oct. 23 – Immediately following board meeting (4 to 6 p.m.) – Carbondale – Carbondale Community High School Library, 1301 E. Walnut St., Carbondale, IL 62901

· Tuesday, Nov. 12 – 4 to 6 p.m. – Champaign – Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., Champaign, IL 61820

· Thursday, Nov. 14 – 4 to 6 p.m. – Grayslake – College of Lake County,  Auditorium, 19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake, IL 60030

· Wednesday, Nov. 20 – 4 to 6 p.m. – Macomb – Macomb High School Library, 1525 S. Johnson St., Macomb, IL 61455

· Friday, Nov. 22 – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Chicago – Thompson Center, Conference Room 16-503, 100 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601

The State Board’s Finance and Audit Committee conducts public hearings each year to gather opinions about local district’s education needs and priorities as they prepare the following year’s education budget. The Board generally recommends an education budget in January, several months prior to any General Assembly action on the next fiscal year’s budget. The Board can only make a recommendation. The Governor and legislators must determine how to generate revenue and set the final budget.

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