One of the main objectives of Senate Bill 16 (SB16) is to create a single simplified formula that would ensure that the majority of State Aid goes to School Districts that have the greatest need taking into consideration a community's ability to fund their own schools locally. Unfortunately, because of the wide variety of needs and demographics across Illinois, there is no simple answer to our State's education funding problems. The reality is that truly self sufficient School Districts in Illinois only receive 5% of the total State Aid and that is far short of what is needed to address the fact that 60% of the School Districts in the State of Illinois had a deficit budget in 2014.
To find additional funding, Senate Bill 16 (SB16) redefines what a "self sufficient" School District is and as a result some of the hardest hit School Districts with the SB16 proposed changes are middle class communities that have a high number of "at-risk" students. Some of these communities may have higher property value because of their location, but because of their middle class income they spend some of the highest percentages of their income on housing and have high disproportionately high property taxes.
Below is an example of how SB16 affects my School District that is located in a middle class community in South Cook County. Like most communities in South Cook County, NPD 117 has seen a dramatic increase in the number of low income students, students in poverty and English Language Learners over the past 10 years. NPD 117 breaks the mold in that it has also steadily increased academic performance during this time and today ranks in the top 10% of School Districts in the State for overall academic performance and highest academic achievement within the English Language Learners and Low Income Student sub groups. Another important indicator of NPD 117's success is that without changing School District boundaries or having any significant housing development, NPD 117 has increased enrollment by 17% over the past 10 years. In comparison, the other 65 School Districts in South Cook County have decreased total enrollment by 7%.
North Palos District 117
NPD 117 is dependent upon both local and State funding. The loss of funds resulting from SB16 would be devastating.
- NPD 117 is projected to lose 100% of their supplemental State Aid with SB16.
- The loss in State Aid is 4.1million per year, $1,500 per student and is greater than 10% of NPD 117's overall budget.
- NPD 117 currently spends $1,000 less per student than the State average and with the projected impact of SB16, NPD117's spending per student would drop into the lowest quartile in the State, even though their need is in the top 10%.
NPD 117 is a 2012 recipient of the National Blue Ribbon Award, which is our Nation's highest academic award that a School District can receive. "The U.S. Department of Education has sought out schools where students attain and maintain high academic goals. To be named a Blue Ribbon School is to join an elite group. Of the nearly 140,000 schools in the U.S., just over 6,000 schools have received this honor in the last 30 years. " North Palos District 117 is one of our State's success stories in both being a high achieving school district and also being fiscally responsible. The projected loss from SB16 would result in eliminating all of the programs and supports that NPD 117 successfully created and implemented to target their struggling students - the same students SB16 is supposed to be helping the most.
Raise the Bar Illinois
Changes are needed in the current State Aid funding formula, but with limited resources we need to define ways to "Raise the Bar" on equity, student achievement and fiscal responsibility for all schools in our state. We need to first determine what School Districts within the State have "Successful School Models" for both academic achievement and fiscal responsibility and build a new model for our State that ensures we have a strong Return on Investment for all of the children in Illinois. The stakes are too high these days, not to give each child the chance to get a great education.
Student Achievement Comparison
NPD117 is one of the top performing School Districts in the State of Illinois in overall student achievement and also within the English Language Learner and Low Income sub groups.
10 Year Enrollment Trend
NPD117's enrollment has increased by 17% over the past 10 years without any changes in boundaries or significant housing development.