school-funding1One of the biggest issues facing our state, and an issue I have been working on since January, is our state’s inequitable system for funding public education.  Illinois’ current system is the second-most inequitable system in the nation.

In policy terms, this means our current funding formulas rely too heavily on property taxes. In real-world terms, this means we have vast funding disparities between high- and low-poverty school districts that only further disadvantage students in poorer communities, both urban and rural.

I started the process to address this issue last spring when I passed a measure to create the Senate Education Advisory Committee or EFAC. The committee has been tasked with reviewing the current public education funding distribution system and submitting recommendations for improvement and increased equity to the full General Assembly by Feb. 1, 2014.

As we are nearing the end of 2013, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the progress of the Education Funding Advisory Committee (EFAC).

The EFAC has held a total of six hearings since August with each hearing hosted at a different location. You can view the agenda from each hearing by clicking here. Advance Illinois Chart

We have heard from dozens of education leaders, organizations, teachers, students, superintendents and union representatives who have provided greater insight and offered suggestions to address the gross inequalities in Illinois’ education funding system. While we have heard from a broad range of people concerned with education in Illinois, the goal has always remained the same: to propose a state education funding system that provides adequate, equitable, transparent, and accountable distribution of funds to school districts that will prepare students for achievement and success after high school.

The committee has not only been reviewing Illinois’ school funding formula, but the committee has also looked at funding formulas in other states and heard testimony from education leaders who were directly involved with making major funding reforms in those states. The goal is to see what worked and what didn’t work.

The committee has been working hard behind the scenes as well, and I believe the committee will meet its goal of submitting legislation to the full General Assembly by our February deadline. You can view all testimony and presentations submitted to the committee by clicking here to visit the committee’s website.

Our next hearing will be Waterloo, IL:

Education Funding Advisory Committee (EFAC)
1:00p.m. – 4:00p.m.
Waterloo High School
505 E. Bulldog Boulevard
Waterloo, IL

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