The Daily Herald is mistaken in its view that the new school funding formula disproportionately benefits Chicago Public Schools (June 3, editorial: School funding equity loses out to Chicago greed). The reality is that based on the Illinois State Board of Education's modeling of the bill just 20 percent of the $350 million in new dollars will go to Chicago. In fact, 268 districts receive more dollars per pupil from this bill than Chicago. And unlike past efforts at school funding reform, under SB1 no district loses money. Special block grant payments Chicago Public Schools receives will be sunset, a measure many suburban legislators have long sought. The state will provide money to cover the pension costs CPS teachers are earning today, as it does for all other school districts.
SB1 is far from a Chicago bailout. The new formula benefits districts across the state and distributes money fairly. Right now, Illinois is last in the nation in providing school funding to our neediest students. For every $1 spent on a non-low income student, only 81 cents is spent on a low-income student. SB1 eliminates this inequity by distributing dollars based on a district's number of low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities. It also takes into account a local district's property wealth so that low-income students are not punished for their ZIP code.
Schools in rural, suburban and urban areas have all suffered under Illinois' current school funding formula, which has shortchanged low-income students for decades. SB1's funding reforms are the first steps toward improving our education system. We urge the governor to sign this bill.
Michael A. Jacoby, Executive Director
Illinois Association of School Business Officials