Board of Education Adopts Resolution Regarding State Funding
RICH TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 227’s SCHOOL BOARD PASSES RESOLUTION ENCOURAGING RADICAL CHANGES IN STATE SCHOOL FUNDING
FUNDS TO CHARTER SCHOOL WILL BANKRUPT DISTRICTS
OLYMPIA FIELDS, IL –(April 18, 2012)—The Rich Township High School District 227 Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution supporting legislation to transform the way the state of Illinois funds traditional public schools and charter schools.
This is the second resolution passed by the Board aimed at addressing the loss of revenues from the State. In March, the Board approved the Teacher’s Retirement System Funding Reform Resolution, addressing the current legislation regarding funding for the Teacher’s Retirement System which would shift the state’s obligation onto local school districts.
The state’s funding formula currently takes money previously designated for traditional public schools and gives it to charter schools. That method diminishes support for traditional schools at a time when funding is suffering from a decrease in property tax revenue and cuts in other state funding. The formula also limits the money flowing to the state-approved charter schools, explained Superintendent Dr. Donna Simpson Leak.
Board members said they want the Illinois General Assembly to enact laws that would guarantee state-authorized charter schools adequate funding without depriving their host school districts of the district’s fair share of state aid.
The board also wants the General Assembly to provide for and appropriate sufficient revenues to enable all public schools – charter schools and districts schools – to continue to operate with the level of service which the law requires and the children of Illinois deserve.
The bills could be introduced in special sessions this fall or in the regular session next spring, school leaders said.
“All of our children expect and deserve a quality education,” said Dr. Leak. “The current method of funding hurts students in the traditional schools and the charter schools. If we are to have charter schools, it is incumbent upon our state leaders to adequately fund all state-supported educational entities so that each and every child has an opportunity for success.”
District 227 is the only high school district in the state currently grappling with a funding structure that takes away its funds and redistributes them to a charter high school without input from the district.
Dr. Leak said she fears that the state’s current structure of funding state authorized charter schools, as is the case in the District 227, will impact other school districts in the future and cause problems for them as well.
“For this reason we are enlisting the support of our friends with the Illinois Association of School Boards,” she said. “We all have a goal of supporting public education that works for the good of all students, so we must work together.”
At a time when the school district is facing a reduction in state aid, lack of payments and cuts in funding for transportation and special education, District 227 schools can’t afford additional cuts to funding streams that are so vital to educational success, Dr. Leak said.
“We know that our lawmakers share with us the desire for all of our children to have the support they need to prepare them for bright futures. When this happens, our state is stronger,” Dr. Leak said. “It is my sincere hope that they will recognize the flaws in funding laws for state authorized charter schools and correct it for the good of the children and for the good of this state.”
This resolution could not have come at a more critical time as proponents of charter schools rallied in Springfield on Tuesday, urging legislators to expand charter schools in the state.
“This movement gives other districts reasons for concern, because they will be the subject to the same kind of financial devastation that has hit District 227,” Owens said. “We must take action to stop the bleeding from funding being diverted to the charter schools.”
Once other school boards pass similar resolutions and seek meetings with legislators in Springfield, Owens believes the legislators will seriously take a look at the toll their actions have had on District 227 and can have on other districts.
“And if they don’t,” she added, “I can see school districts around the state being financially bankrupted because their districts will continue to lose money by financially supporting the state authorized charter schools as they become established. This is not fair to students in traditional public schools and certainly not good for the future of education in Illinois.”