While it is unfortunate that it took until the last day of our fiscal year, we received good news for K-12 education on June 30. For the first time in seven years, State legislators approved full funding of General State Aid. GSA is the largest portion of the funding we receive from the state. We also received news that mandated categorical payments will be funded at FY16 levels and early childhood will be increased by $75 mil over last year’s funding levels.
Specifically the budget appropriations contained in SB 2047 provide funding for school districts that will cover the statutory foundation level of $6,119 per pupil and add another $250 million in equity grants.
Chicago Public Schools will receive an additional $215 million for payment toward the cost of their teachers’ pensions. CPS has also been given the authority to levy a separate property tax for the purpose of making employer contributions to the pension fund.
Regarding the rest of the State government, the General Assembly approved a stopgap six-month budget—the first State budget since June 30, 2015. The appropriations bill includes $1 billion for higher education for costs of FY16 and the first half of FY17.
State leaders now plan for legislative working groups to continue meeting in order to prepare a full-year budget that will be presented during the November/December Veto session. Thank you to the parents, staff and community members who reached out to legislators to share the importance of funding our K-12 schools.
In other, more local news, several Boards of Education in St. Clair County recently passed resolutions to place the question of a County School Facilities Tax on the November ballot. After receiving support from community engagement sessions, the Boards took this action to allow voters to decide whether or not to add a 1% sales tax to fund school facilities and the abatement of debt from improvements to facilities.
During community engagement sessions O’Fallon-Shiloh superintendents and Board representatives shared that at least 50% of the funds from a 1% sales tax would be used to pay off current debt which would directly impact the bond and interest property tax rate. Other uses of the funds were shared as well and include updates to safety and security specifically in District 90. Thank you to the community members who attended the engagement sessions and served on the facilitating teams.