The evidence-based school funding system is being hailed as the best solution to address funding inequalities in schools from poor districts in Illinois. It is projected to bridge the gap between property-rich schools and their poor counterparts.
Education funding to address inequalities is one of the most difficult tasks for an education department in any state. Illinois, however, is making progress in this field by rolling out an evidence-based funding system to address these inequalities. The project has been in operation for the last three academic and is expected to be a long-term project. There is now enough data that can be used to determine if there is any progress made.
Evidence-based funding fixes funding inequalities
In Illinois, all available data was pointing to funding inequalities between property-poor schools and property-rich schools.
The property poor schools also paid higher property taxes compared to their counterparts. This underfunding of property poor schools was documented to reflect negatively on standardized tests of the students.
Research by Capitol News Illinois showed that there was a rift in performance between well-funded schools and least funded schools. They were able to analyze financial records of 850 public schools and compared them with their performance. This data was for the academic year 2017/2018 provided the basis on which to base the argument of performance between schools and funding.
Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, after reading the report is quoted as saying:
None of what the state board released is shocking to me because the compromise at the end was an incremental step.
This showed the understanding of the underlying issues, and the willingness to join in the fight against funding inequalities.
Politics involved in this project is risky
Chicago has around 372,000 students making it the third-largest school district in the country. It is also one of the richest district based on the taxable property which is $74 billion. An increase of $10,000 in per capital school district taxable income resulted in an increase of around 0.9 percent funding for schools.
There is still a long way to go in fixing funding inequalities and ensure that there is funding adequacy in all schools. The politics involved in this project is risky, where people raise a question about the disproportionate funding of poor schools. There is still a long way to go, but progress is being made according to Dan Cox, superintendent of the Staunton school district in Madison County.