Peg Mannion
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From: Monday, October 5, 2015 12:40 PM -0500
Subject:School Funding Reform Act Senate Bill 16

Senate Bill 16, which would radically redistribute state funding for education, is under review by the State of Illinois legislature. The bill, as written, would cut the annual revenue that Glenbard Township High School District 87 receives from the State of Illinois by a staggering $5.4 million per year, a 79% reduction.  

This significant reduction in revenue would require Glenbard District 87 to reduce staff, instructional programs and capital renovations that are needed to deliver quality programs for our students.  Class sizes would rise; instructional programs would be reduced and/or eliminated; and buildings would not be maintained to the level required.

This legislation could be acted upon as early as November or during the January 2015 lame duck session. If enacted into law, Senate Bill 16 would make sweeping changes in how the state funds education. Generally, school districts with higher assessed property values would receive much less state funding. The bill does not address the unfunded obligations to school district that has occurred in recent years.  Currently, the state 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 new formula would not adequately support the needs of these students.

In the past 10 years, Glenbard District 87’s low-income population has increased 400%, from 8% in 2004 to 32% in 2014.  We welcome all students and believe that our changing demographics enrich our school community.  However, a significant growth in the number of low-income students presents financial and instructional challenges.  Now is not the time to slash our state funding by 79%. Also, the Legislature’s discussion of shifting the cost of pensions to local school districts presents additional significant financial challenges.

While Glenbard District 87 agrees that Illinois’ education funding model requires a comprehensive review and requires improvement, SB16 as written is not the answer.  We do agree that there are school districts in the state that need more financial assistance.  The State of Illinois should provide this assistance; however, that should be accomplished by giving additional resources to school districts in need, not by taking dollars away from school districts that rely on those dollars to deliver programs to students.

Senate Bill 16:
•     Is modeled after a similar effort in Massachusetts.  The Massachusetts General Assembly provided $1 billion in new money.  There is no new money for education in Illinois SB16.  This legislation is a redistribution of current resources.
•     Assumes school districts can recoup the loss of state aid through additional local funding. However, the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (tax cap) limits the amount that school districts can levy.
•     Was approved by the Senate in the spring; input from all stakeholders is needed before action is taken by the House; and could be quickly acted upon by the General Assembly.  

What can you do?
Contact your state lawmaker to voice your opinion about the implications of SB16 on Glenbard District 87. Contacts:

•     Senator Michael Connelly (21-R)
kimbrondyke21@gmail.com or (630) 682-8101

•     Representative Jeanne M. Ives (42-R)
repjeanneives@gmail.com or (630) 384-1108

•     Senator Thomas Cullerton (23-D)
tom@senatortomcullerton.com or (630) 903-6662

•     Representative Dennis Reboletti (45-R)
RepReboletti@gmail.com or (630) 628-0045

•     Representative Deborah Conroy (46-D)
repdebconroy@gmail.com or (630) 415-3520

•     Senator Chris Nybo (24-R)
chris@chrisnybo.org or (630) 969-0990

•     Representative Sandra M. Pihos (48-R)
sandrapihos48@gmail.com or (630) 858-8855

For more information about SB16, visit http://www.lend-dupage.org/current-legislation/