District Administration November 2017 - 18

Illinois steers funding
toward struggling districts
Illinois has revamped state education
funding to provide extra support to economically challenged K12 districts.
Evidence-based funding, which goes
into effect in 2018, considers each district's needs and local funding resources
when allocating state aid, with extra emphasis placed on high-poverty districts.
Previously, nearly two-thirds of funding

Illinois evidence-based
funding at a glance
New: Illinois will use a formula to distribute state K12 funding rather than
relying solely on local property taxes.
Economically disadvantaged districts
are prioritized to better ensure equitable funding.
How it works: Multiple factors, such
as a district's demographics and
enrollment, are used to calculate
a per-student "funding adequacy
target." The percentage difference
between the projected adequacy target and actual spending determines a
district's tier-the higher the percentage, the needier the district. Each of
the four tiers then receives a different
percentage of state funding, with the
most needy districts getting the most.

for each district-compared to a national
average of 45 percent-came from local
property taxes. This generally benefited
districts in wealthier communities.
Opponents of the new structure say
it forces those more affluent districts to
support struggling systems.
The legislation also aims to eliminate the achievement gap by raising the
performance of at-risk students-not by
reducing standards. "The new Illinois
legislation levels the playing field for all
students," says Deborah Delisle, executive director of ASCD.
The Illinois State Board of Education
will spend the next few months determining each district's financial status
before distributing funds.
New challenges arise
The challenge for districts will come
as the law's details are sorted out, says
Delisle. For example, it's not clear how
districts will be held accountable for performance. Also, Illinois must determine
how it will measure the impact of the
extra funding.
Although this is a new approach for
Illinois, 35 other states gear funding
toward assisting low-income districts,
according to a June 2017 study from the
Urban Institute. Allocations and formu-

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las vary greatly, and the effectiveness of
these efforts is difficult to track.
Districts receiving increased financial
support need well-conceived, detailed
spending plans in place, says Delisle.
Those plans should include assessments
of programs, products and services that
address the district's needs so funds can
be spent effectively.
Long-term view
The real challenge for any funding formula is how it holds up over years. As
cost of living, student demographics and
tax rates fluctuate, a formula often needs
to be tweaked-a detail legislators often
overlook despite their best intentions.
The new Illinois approach may not
have any wider national impact as most
state legislators do not look to other
states for funding guidance, says Delisle.
"I don't know that there's one perfect
funding formula," she says. "Hopefully
we'll look back and say, 'Wow, Illinois hit
upon a successful formula and can share
it with other states.'"
-Ray Bendici

MOVERS AND SHAKERS

A fifth-grade teacher at Canopy Oaks Elementary School
in the Leon County Schools district of Tallahassee, Florida,
was transferred to an adult basic education program after
attempting to bring gender-neutral pronouns into the
classroom. Controversy arose after the teacher had sent
a letter to parents requesting students use gender-neutral
pronouns such as "they," "them," and "their," and also
asking to be called "Mx. (pronounced "mix") rather than
Miss or Ms. The district released a statement saying that
the transfer was "best for everyone involved."

Chicopee High School Principal James Blain of
Chicopee Public Schools in Massachusetts has
new roles for his vice principals. They now work
with all students, instead of just a specific group,
and each is assigned an area of expertise, such
as behavior. Blain is also
expanding vocational ed to
make up for students leaving to
take Chicopee Comprehensive
High's vocational program.
Comprehensive High is
overcrowded and enrollment at
Chicopee High is low as a result.

Source: Tallahassee Democrat

18 November 2017

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District Administration November 2017 - Cover1
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District Administration November 2017 - 1
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