State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) filed legislation that would help all school districts in the state and end the practice of only giving 89% of what each district is supposed to receive in state aid, otherwise known as “proration,” by fully funding the state’s “Foundation Level.” Under this piece of legislation, the Foundation Level would be the number one funding priority in Illinois’ education system. It would require the Foundation Level grant within the state’s General State Aid formula be funded at 100 percent before directing education dollars to any other grant lines or programs.
“This is a simple, common sense approach keeps the promise made the schools, students and parents, to fund each child at $6,119 per student and fulfills the intent of the school funding formula,” Righter said. “Fully funding Foundation Levels will end the practice of ‘proration,” which has been devastating to schools, particularly downstate. Those who drafted and voted for the budgets for the previous five years have prorated these funds for schools, and that’s the primary cause of financial distress.”
For example, this year’s budget, passed only by democrats in the General Assembly and signed by former Governor Pat Quinn, prorates funding at 89% of what’s called for in state law. “This practice of proration must stop and this piece of legislation would accomplish this goal,” Righter stated.
“Fully funding the Foundation Level first is a reasonable alternative that will help all schools and every community,” Righter said. “Rather than ‘prorating’ the funding to schools, a tool the Democrat majorities and governors have come to rely on, let’s give the schools what they are owed. When I talk to superintendents in my district, that’s what they all tell me.”
In a March 2013 report, “School Funding in Illinois: An Examination” the top problem identified was the steady erosion of the Foundation Level, as more and more funds were diverted to special programs that aid specific school districts at the expense of overall state funding.
“The state should meet its core obligation first and then use the leftover to address other needs. It shouldn’t be the other way around,” Righter said. “The foundation formula was specifically designed to guarantee a minimum funding level for all students in Illinois. Under this legislation, the state fully funds at this Foundation Level first. Then we can fund those other programs that have unintentionally diminished our ability to fulfill our basic obligation to all students in Illinois.”