“SB 1 does NOT change the maximum amount of General State Aid (GSA) money that has been in Illinois law since the 2009-2012 school year: $6,119 per pupil. SB 1 would take away special education money and use PART of that money for a block grant and PART of special education money to shift funding from one school district to another.
“The one change for special education in SB 1 from SB 16 is that the assumed number of special education students, 13.8 percent, can be increased if a district has up to 18.8 percent of students with disabilities. The weighting factor for the special education block grant remains at a much too low 1.0, and the future base percentage for the block grant remains a guess provided by ISBE as to the number of students with disabilities in public schools (rather than the number of students with IEPs).
“Senate Bill 1 is largely an attempt to cover over a failure to fund Illinois schools by taking away direct funding of special education teachers and re-distributing that money in a block grant. The GSA formulas worked very well when Illinois was properly funding schools and still partly work today.
“Special education Personnel Reimbursement, which is separate from GSA, now provides $9,000 for each special education teacher, each school social worker, each school psychologist, each school nurse and other professionals that work full-time with special education students.
“SB 1 would completely abolish this dedicated funding for special education Personnel Reimbursement, which now provides up to 1/3 of a special education teacher’s salary in a poor district, but less than 1/10 of that salary for some teachers in a wealthy district.
“This school year under GSA, the 64 highest wealth school districts are entitled to receive only $218 per student, while the 86 poorest school districts are entitled to receive over $4,000 per student. This school year, Illinois is funding only 89 percent of those GSA amounts (proration). In other words, the poorest school districts are losing over 6 percent of their total budgets, while the wealthy school districts are losing about 1 percent of their total budgets.
“More importantly, Illinois has failed for years to provide the needed funding increases for K to 12 education. In 2002, by State law, Illinois was to provide $4,560 per student through a combination of State and local funds (which was determined based on low-spending but high achieving school districts). Now, by State law, Illinois is to provide only $6,119, although the amount determined based on low-spending but high achieving school districts is $8,672.
“You cannot cover over the failure of Illinois to fund schools by blaming formulas that work as intended when schools get the funds they need.”