Highland News Leader

New state funding formula means good chunk of cash for Highland

A change in how the state of Illinois calculates the disbursement of education dollars will mean the Highland School District can largely plug a couple substantial holes in its budget.

Highland will receive $146,478 more than last year due to the state's new Evidence-Based Funding.

"This is what we were expecting," said Tim Bair, business manager for the Highland School District. "However, we did not feel confident enough with the state of Illinois to include in our current budget when it was adopted in September."

Since the district was unsure about how or when the state might hand out the new money, Highland passed a budget that showed a $90,000 deficit in the Education Fund and a $100,000 deficit in the Transportation Fund.

"We have not discussed allocating this revenue to any specific initiative," Bair said. "However, it can certainly help offset our current deficit(s). This will be beneficial as we continue to improve our financial strength and regain our footing with some of our programs."

Last Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Education announced how much aid each district would get this school year. The new funding formula defines an adequate funding target for each school district, based on enrollment numbers and the cost of 34 factors proven to deliver the greatest positive impact to students. The formula compares each district’s current resources to its unique adequacy target. Increases in state education appropriations go to the most under-resourced districts.

All 61 districts in the five-county metro-east area are getting more money than they did last year. The need-based increases range from $200 to $2.9 million.

Metro-east districts with the largest increases from the previous year were:

Granite City District 9, with $2.9 million

Belleville District 201, with $2.4 million

Belleville District 118, with $1.6 million

Triad will receive $203,201 more; Edwardsville, $197,097; Wesclin, $183,612; Breese SD12, $29,175; Aviston 21, $25,838; Central 71, $24,596; St. Rose, $5,474.

“Implementing a radically new funding formula required extraordinary effort by ISBE staff and school districts,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “I deeply appreciate Gov. Rauner and the General Assembly’s commitment through the passage, cleanup, and distribution of this historic first year of Evidence-Based Funding.”

ISBE issues EBF vouchers twice per month from August through June. School districts have been receiving the base funding minimum, or hold harmless, portion of EBF. The final six EBF vouchers for fiscal 2018 will contain all of the FY 2018 tier funding.

The state comptroller is responsible for processing the vouchers and distributing funds to school districts. ISBE issued vouchers to the comptroller last week with the new funding totals for each district.