State Capitol – 17 Southern Illinois school districts announced they are suing the State, Governor and the Illinois State Board of Education, ISBE, to hold them accountable to adequately fund a “high quality education” for all students.
They note the state has consistently paid the districts less than the “foundation level” and the state has still failed to repay millions of dollars in “categorical grants” that compensate districts for various expenditures, like school bus transportation costs.
One district Supervisor, noted they recently had to cut millions of dollars from their budget, including the laying off of 10 teachers.
These are all Southern IL School Districts that represent many low-income students.
The Superintendents say that suing the state and governor was not there first choice, but after waiting for the state to compensate the districts, after having to cut millions of dollars and cut teachers from their districts, they say they felt they have little recourse, but to bring suit.
They note that for many years, the state has consistently passed new programs and higher education standards and required testing of students, but then consistently failed to pay what was supposed to be the minimum per-pupil spending, referred to as the “foundation level” and failed to compensate the districts for the additional costs required to follow the state’s new mandates. Nor has the state compensated the districts for “categorical spending” that runs into millions of dollars per district annually.
In their suit, the plaintiffs argue the State first must use an evidence-based methodology to calculate the per-pupil extra financial aid necessary for low property wealth districts to meet the Illinois Learning Standards, and second must fund each district at that calculated level.
They argue in their suit, the Illinois Constitution provides basis for this case in Article X, Section 1, which requires that Illinois “shall provide for an efficient system of high quality education.”