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Across Illinois, there are plenty of examples of how our state's school funding formula is broken. While our state ranks 15th for highest average spending per student at $10,343, these funds are allocated very differently among wealthy and poor districts....

Change the school funding formula — without a CPS bailout

Across Illinois, there are plenty of examples of how our state's school funding formula is broken. While our state ranks 15th for highest average spending per student at $10,343, these funds are allocated very differently among wealthy and poor districts....

Change the school funding formula — without a CPS bailout

Across Illinois, there are plenty of examples of how our state's school funding formula is broken. While our state ranks 15th for highest average spending per student at $10,343, these funds are allocated very differently among wealthy and poor districts. Based on poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau, poor students in Illinois receive $0.81 for every dollar spent on their wealthier counterparts. The data make clear what Illinois advocates have known for decades — the current method of funding schools isn't working.

Students living in poverty, students with special education needs and English language learners need more resources to ensure success in preparing for college and career. Because of the lack of state support throughout the years, local municipalities have taken the burden of school funding upon themselves by increasing tax rates and imposing taxes to pay for specific projects, such as capital improvements or investment in technology.

For some districts, this has resulted in schools that are well funded and ensure great academic outcomes. Other districts find themselves with high tax rates, underresourced schools and financial distress.

As secretary of education, it is my responsibility to advocate for all students in Illinois. It is for this reason that I cannot in good conscience recommend the adoption of any formula change that includes special set-asides for any one district. While CPS would gain funds from any formula changes that prioritize our most vulnerable students, the district should not be granted additional funds beyond what a new formula would provide.

While the K-12 funding formula needs to be changed, those who blame the entirety of CPS' financial woes solely on the formula are either disingenuous or misinformed. The major struggle that CPS faces is rooted in the historical, bloated administrative costs of the district and the underfunding of the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund, which was 100 percent funded as recently as 2001.

Chicago has been responsible for funding its own teacher pensions for more than 100 years. When the mayor was given direct management authority over Chicago schools in 1995, the state legislature declared a good-faith intention to help CPS by contributing 20 percent to 30 percent of the pension costs every year. The state also began to give CPS roughly $250 million extra per year in annual block grants that no other school district was eligible to receive. In the last four years alone, that extra block grant has netted CPS an additional billion dollars. These special payments have more than compensated CPS for the normal cost of its pension fund over the last 15 years.

Low-income school districts caught in a statistical crossfire Eric Zorn

I have on my desk two documents relevant to the political fight in Springfield over public school funding.

The first report is authored by the Illinois Senate Republican caucus and concludes that Chicago Public Schools receives nearly $800 million more per year from the state than it would if the...

I have on my desk two documents relevant to the political fight in Springfield over public school funding.

The first report is authored by the Illinois Senate Republican caucus and concludes that Chicago Public Schools receives nearly $800 million more per year from the state than it would if the...

(Eric Zorn)

The stunning fact is that while the state provided major assistance to CPS, Chicago shirked its own duty to pay its pensions. From 1995 to 2015, the state sent CPS payments totaling approximately $1.1 billion for pension contributions. During that same time frame, CPS skipped pension payments for 10 straight years and received General Assembly approval for three additional years of contribution reductions.

Not paying the actuarially calculated amount every year effectively makes taxpayers borrow from the pensions at their long-term rate of return, which for CTPF is 7.75 percent. Chicago's pensions today are only 52 percent funded, forcing CPS to take out what the Tribune called a "payday loan" in order to make its upcoming payment of $675 million.

Given these conditions, it is no surprise that CPS leader Forrest Claypool is now asking for a financial bailout for the irresponsible behavior of his predecessors, but let's not be confused. This additional allocation for CPS is not to restore equity — it's to make up for years of financial mismanagement.

Finding compromise in school funding is tall task Rich Miller

We saw some examples earlier this month of why school funding reform is so difficult to accomplish in Illinois.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin appeared with Gov. Bruce Rauner at Lyons Township High School, which is in Durkin's district. Durkin pointed out to reporters that the school would...

We saw some examples earlier this month of why school funding reform is so difficult to accomplish in Illinois.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin appeared with Gov. Bruce Rauner at Lyons Township High School, which is in Durkin's district. Durkin pointed out to reporters that the school would...

(Rich Miller)

I continue to support the need for a change to the funding formula, which has consistently been a priority of Gov. Bruce Rauner. But any change to the formula must hold true to the value of equity, not prioritize some districts over others, and should drive improved outcomes for students in urban, suburban and rural communities.

We are one state. We need one formula that treats all students equitably, no matter where they live.

Beth Purvis is the Illinois secretary of education.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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