State Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) has vowed to fight passage of Senate Bill 16 (SB 16) that would strip suburban schools of most of their state support while channeling that money to Chicago schools.
SB 16, a measure that passed the Senate last spring, but was held in the Illinois House, would significantly rewrite the formula used to allocate state education dollars.
“This egregious effort to change the way state education dollars are distributed to school districts around the state is being floated as ‘reform,’ but it is nothing more than a transparent attempt to take money away from suburban schools,” Nybo said.
Closed door meetings are being held among top Democrats at the request of House Speaker Michael Madigan to consider the legislation. “Supporters of this scheme are trying to fly under the radar without telling parents and teachers how this would hurt our schools,” Nybo said. “This may be the most important education issue facing suburban residents, yet many are unaware their districts could lose more than three fourths of their state tax dollars.”
Estimates provided by the Illinois State Board of Education show that thirty-five area school districts would lose a combined total of almost $64 million or just under 70% of all state funding. Several area districts would be targeted to lose more than 80% of their state support.
“Instead of building a consensus for school reform and improved education funding, they are attempting to rob successful school districts of what little funding they receive from the state,” Nybo said.
“This bill pits school districts, teachers and parents against one another. We have seen education funding shrink under Governor Quinn. This bill would force school districts to fight one another over that shrinking pie, when everyone should be working together to maximize state support for schools,” Nybo said. “It is harder to build a pro-education coalition when this proposed legislation increases the inequity of school funding.”
In addition to the loss of state support, Nybo said he disagrees with the measure’s unfair treatment of students who live in poverty.
“The current formula for state support for children in poverty ranges from $355 to $2,994 based on the school district the child happens to live in. Under this plan that inequality worsens, going from a low of $13 to a high of $3,900. It’s ridiculous to suggest that one school district can educate a student living in poverty on $13, when another school district would receive almost $4000,” Nybo added.
Nybo said he is particularly concerned because Speaker Madigan has in the past claimed suburban schools receive a “free lunch” from the state.
Nybo says the cuts would be severe. Elmhurst School District 205, which currently receives about $5.8 million in state aid, would be cut to $1.35 million. Glenbard Township High School District 87 would lose $5.5 million or 79% of its state aid. Lombard District 44’s state aid would fall from $2.84 million to $520,694. (A full listing of the impact on area school districts is attached)
“No school district could possibly sustain these kinds of cuts,” Nybo said. “The irony is that many of these school districts already receive little from the state and instead rely on local property taxpayers for the bulk of their funding. This would strip them of the small state support they receive and force devastating cuts or huge property tax hikes.”
Nybo is urging teachers and parents to contact statewide organizations such as the Illinois Education Association and urge opposition to the measure. He is also asking school administrators to contact their professional organizations and urge them to take a stand opposing the bill.
Nybo explained the measure has already passed the Senate, but was placed on hold in the Illinois House. However, the closed door discussions that are occurring show that could change when the fall session begins in November.
“This is a massive reallocation of state tax dollars and, at a minimum, it should not be considered by a lame duck legislature,” Nybo said. “Parents, teachers and school administrators must speak out now to keep this from advancing and demand a more equitable and reasonable approach.”