Jacksonville superintendent not optimistic new funding formula will pass

By Jim McCabe on April 15 at 1:05pm

District 117 officials are weighing in on a plan to change the funding formula for schools in Illinois.

Senator Andy Manar’s proposal would be a single funding formula that will even out the playing field when it comes to dishing out state money to schools. It calls for more than 90 percent of the state’s education dollars to go to schools based on their needs.

Funding would be determined using a weighted system that will take into account the characteristics of each school district, such as the percentage of students living in poverty.

While the proposal is gaining momentum, Jacksonville School District superintendent Steve Ptacek believes support will wane.

“A lot of people are assuming that it will end up that they will end up with more money, and that’s the reason they’re on board with it,” Ptacek says.

“I do think Jacksonville’s potentially in the position where it might end up as a positive gain for our school district based upon our density when it comes to the transportation aspect for the funding, low-income percentage, special education percentage, and other factors. However, I’m not as excited as others are that this has a chance of passing for next year, based upon your politicians not having seen an actual breakdown for their districts,” he adds.

Ptacek has served in different school districts in various economic statuses in Illinois, and through that experience, offers this about the current funding formula:

“To a certain extent, it does work. Is it perfect? No, it’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t know if this is going to solve the problems that everyone is highlighting with our current system,” Ptacek says.

“I don’t know if this funding formula is going to be able to answer the concerns the way people think it’s going to. There’s nothing in this formula that is generating new money.”

The bill was voted out of subcommittee last week and is expected to go before a full Senate panel soon.

District 117 board of education members will vote on a resolution at tomorrow night’s monthly meeting strongly urging the General Assembly to refrain from placing additional unfunded mandates on school districts and to allow for flexibility and relief from current unfunded mandates.

The resolution also strongly urges lawmakers to approve legislation that prioritizes education spending and identifies “stable, reliable, and predictable revenue sources for public education.”