O'Fallon Progress

OTHS to receive $442K more from state with new funding formula

A change in how the state of Illinois calculates the disbursement of education dollars will mean $442,069 more per year in funding for O'Fallon Township High School.

The state's new Evidence-Based Funding will also mean $205,750 for O'Fallon School District 90, but far less for Shiloh District 85 and Central 104. Shiloh will get a $47,971 bump in funding, while Central 104 will get $15,188.

The Illinois State Board of Education recently 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.

OTHS was at 61.9 percent adequacy.

OTHS Superintendent Dr. Darcy Benway said the final calculation for OTHS represented a slight increase over the preliminary estimates that were distributed last year. 

 "Additional dollars received by OTHS will be used, in part, to enhance educational programming as the researched-based factors in the model suggest, and will be used, in part, to reduce the amount of deficit spending the district has in its operating funds," Benway said.

District 90 was at 69 percent adequacy.

"The formula is one step toward adequate and equitable funding for all students in the state," said District 90 Superintendent Carrie Hruby. "While we recognize that the formula will only work if it is funded with new dollars in the future years, we are pausing to celebrate that this fiscal year's new dollars are flowing to districts after many years of cuts and prorations of state funding. Some minor adjustments to the law were recently made and now allow the new dollars to flow to districts."

Central 104 was at 81 percent adequacy, which placed the district in Tier 2 of the new funding model, meaning 104 will receive less than districts that are further away from their adequacy target.

Still, Dawn Elser, superintendent Central School District 104, said the amount is less than what she expected.

"But it's additional money that we can put towards new curriculum materials," she said.

Shiloh 85 was at 66.2 percent adequacy.

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

“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.

School leaders seemed pleased with the new formula, though they cautioned it will take sustained follow through on the part of the state to make sure it is successful long-term.

"Illinois has struggled to equitably and adequately fund public education for years. The Evidence-Based Model has made significant improvements toward addressing the equity issue. The model will only work if legislators continue to fund education to improve the adequacy issue. A state can have a good model to allocate funds, but will still fail students across the state if they do not fund the model as designed," Benway said.

Said Hruby: "It will take several years to get us to our adequacy target. It is estimated that Illinois will need to add $350 to 500 million each year for 10 years to get all districts to their adequacy targets. That shows how lean we are operating and how much we've had to tighten the belts of our budgets as a result of many years of state funding prorations. So, as we celebrate this victory for public education in Illinois, we also refocus on the need to fund the formula and help tomorrow's leaders learn and grow."