Few changes for Illinois schools under new funding formula

Illinois schools are welcoming students back to class for their first full year under Illinois’ new school funding formula, but so far, it’s just like any other year.

Back to school means back to class for students and back to the books for Illinois school leaders.

The state’s new school funding formula changes how the state pays for schools. Need is paramount, and schools will be paid based on enrollment, not daily attendance.

State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, said that’s a big change for local schools.

“Enrollment versus average daily attendance. This is a huge [change] for school districts who are the neediest because they struggle with attendance too,” Bourne said. “They were underfunded, then underfunded even more because their students struggle with attendance.”

Bourne said the state will average enrollment for the past few years.

Anna Jonesboro Superintendent Rob Wright said the switch is a big change in the broad scheme of things, but it doesn’t change much day to day.

“We count kids the same as we always have,” Wright said. “We continue to try and focus on getting our kids to school, and to try and do things to try and incentivize kids being in school.”

Wright said he thinks it’s a little more fair to use enrollment as a basis for school funding.

Gov. Bruce Rauner approved the new school funding formula last year. The cornerstone of the plan is that it makes need the driver of school money.