ROCKFORD– Center for Tax and Budget Accountability Executive Director Ralph Martire will be in Rockford on Wednesday, April 25 to discuss funding the evidenced-based school funding formula with dozens of teachers, education support staff, parents and students.

“We need to fund our future and fund it now.  I’m glad to see the state making strides to make sure all students have access to a quality education no matter where they live, but without the funding the new school funding formula is just an empty promise,” Belvidere Education Association President Kendra Asbury said. “We need to figure out how we’re going to pay for this. We owe it to our students and our communities.”

In August 2017, lawmakers in Springfield passed historic school funding reform legislation that was eventually signed into law. The evidenced-based model was designed to alleviate the spending disparities across Illinois and ensure all students have access to a quality education.

The evidenced-based school funding model calculates a unique funding level for each school district in the state that is based on the educational needs of children and the individual district’s capacity for local funding. The state provides the difference between the educational need and the local funding capacity. ISBE calculations show that some school districts receive less than 50 percent of their adequacy target while others receive over 200 percent.  District evidence-based grants vary based on how far the district is from its adequacy target and the number of students enrolled.

A crucial component missing from the funding reform was the money to pay for the changes. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) estimated the total state funding needed for all school districts is $7.1 billion, but the General Assembly has appropriated only $350 million for the funding formula.  Part of the $7.1 billion total must come from new state funding and part will come from local tax revenue growth over time.  An alternative to local property tax growth is the use of a progressive income tax.

“The evidenced based model for school funding is the best practice for school funding because it ties taxpayer dollar investment to educational practices that actually benefit students the most,” said Martire. “It’s crucial that the legislature appropriate the amount needed to fund the formula fully.”

Martire will speak at the Illinois Education Association office in Rockford (7029 Rote Rd.) at 6:30 p.m. Following his speech, Matire will hold a question and answer session with the audience.

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The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.