DuRoss: Dist. 54 to lose $12.5 million if Senate Bill 16 becomes law

 
By Andrew DuRoss
District 54 Superintendent
Updated 9/25/2014 12:49 PM

This spring the Illinois State Senate passed Senate Bill 16, legislation that would dramatically reduce state funding to District 54 by redistributing general state aid to districts in other communities. While taxes in Schaumburg Township will not be reduced, District 54 would lose an estimated $12.5 million annually -- funding that would instead flow to other districts in the state as a result of revisions to the state's funding formula outlined in Senate Bill 16.

When the Illinois General Assembly reconvenes in November, Senate Bill 16 is one of the bills expected to be discussed in the House.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In District 54, we agree that there is a need for reform to the education funding formula; however, if Senate Bill 16 becomes law in its current form, District 54 would lose about $1,000 per student. This would represent the largest loss to any school district in Illinois, and a decline of 79.5 percent in the amount of funds we receive from the state of Illinois. If Senate Bill 16 were to become law, it would greatly impact our ability to provide a quality education to our students.

In addition, Township High School District 211 would lose almost $8 million annually, for a combined loss of more than $20 million in our community. For a complete look at how school districts would be impacted, click this link.

The intent of Senate Bill 16 is to provide greater equity among school districts across the state. In District 54 we believe that every student deserves the same opportunities to succeed regardless of location or economic status. However, that should be accomplished by giving additional resources to districts in need, not by redistributing money from other school districts. The solution is not to take from the taxpayers in District 54 and other suburban districts, but for the state to fully fund education and stop imposing unfunded mandates. Currently the state of Illinois ranks 50th in the nation in education funding.

The current funding formula provides categorical grants based on the characteristics of students, including the number of English-language learners, special education students and low-income students. The proposed funding formula would no longer adequately support the needs of these students.

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Senate Bill 16 would eliminate the poverty grant. District 54 receives about $4 million annually from this grant, which is awarded to districts based on the number of students they have who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program (for students from low-income families).

Senate Bill 16 would eliminate special education funding. District 54 receives two grants for special education, for a total of $5.3 million. These are based on the number of teachers providing special education services and the number of students with severe disabilities.

Senate Bill 16 would eliminate the bilingual grant. District 54 receives about $900,000 in funding for bilingual education based on the number of students who speak English as a second language.

Supporters of Senate Bill 16 have said that school districts can recoup the loss of state aid through additional local funding; however, the amount District 54 can collect is limited by the tax cap. It is also unfair to ask residents in our community, who already pay higher taxes than those in lower-income communities, to pay even more to make up for the shortfall in state funding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

District 54 has already made cuts in administration and support staff positions over the years so that we can maintain a balanced budget and focus our spending on the programs and staff that make the biggest impact on students. If Senate Bill 16 becomes law, District 54 would need to make changes that directly impact the way we provide education to our students.

Senate Bill 16 has already passed the Illinois Senate. You can click on this link to see how your senator voted. Residents in the District 54 attendance area are served by senators Dan Kotowski and Michael Noland, who both voted in favor of the bill.

If you are concerned about the effect this bill will have on District 54, please contact your Illinois state representative and voice your opinion. Residents in the District 54 attendance area are served by representatives Michelle Mussman and Fred Crespo. Click on www.dailyherald.com/assets/pdf/DA13492695.pdf, and then their name to access their contact information.

It is expected that the House will not vote on Senate Bill 16 until sometime after the November election. election. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me at (847) 357-5036.

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