The best way to help all Illinois schools is to fully fund the state’s “Foundation Level” education grant according to Senate Republican lawmakers who have introduced legislation to re-establish the Foundation Level as the number one funding priority in Illinois’ education system.
Senate Bill 3664 requires 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. The lawmakers say this would be a simple, common sense approach that could be implemented in this year’s budget.
When the current debate over the allocation of school funding got its start with the 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 school aid formula was originally designed to ensure that every school district in the state is provided with a base level of funding per student. The current formula takes into account local property wealth, so that communities with fewer local resources receive more state aid.
However, as the legislature expanded other programs without restraint, cannibalizing funding from the Foundation Level portion of the formula, school districts have had their Foundation Level grants “prorated.” The result is greater inequity and fewer resources.