Something Has to Change!

As we approach the end of our school year, there are some interesting things happening.  What we would like to talk about would be all of the great things that our students have done and the many opportunities where they have taken full advantage.  We would like to talk about our new assessment platform and how it will better inform parents and students about academic areas of proficiency and needed areas of improvement, as well as provide the access to the necessary supporting resources.  We would like to talk about all of our staff and how hard they have worked in the best interest of our students and the improvement of our school district.

 

But, that is not what we are going to talk about, at least not today.  The State of Illinois is going on the second year without a budget, and to be fair, at least K-12 Education has had a budget and have been receiving some payments.  We want to put a couple of misconceptions to rest and want you to consider a couple of questions.

 

  • Perception: “We are fully funding public education for the first time in several years”
  • Fact:  General State Aid is being paid, but the primary multiplier within the formula has not changed since 2010.  By not allowing that multiplier to grow by some reasonable economic indicator such as the “Employee Cost Index,” the State has shifted even more responsibility to our local property tax payers.  Had the State grown the multiplier by just 1.8% per year, our school system would have received an additional $658,734 in State support, but still slightly less than we did in 2010.
  • Fact:  Public Schools have two significant mandates that they must provide, Transportation, and Special Education.  These support payments are paid on a reimbursable model, meaning, we spent the money last year and they reimburse us this year.  To date, they have only paid 25% of the guaranteed reimbursement.  We do not expect any more reimbursements, that 75% is nearly $500,000 in lost revenue.
  • Perception: “We need to reduce the reliance on local property tax to fund our public schools”
  • Fact: We need to reduce the reliance on local property tax to fund our public schools.  It is difficult to argue that we do not need some relief from the burden of property tax.
  • Consideration: What are the implications to property tax relief.  There has not been a bill introduced that does not consider an increase in income tax for the prescribed property tax relief.  Based upon evidence, are we willing to put more money in the bucket that goes to Springfield or keep putting that money into the bucket that goes to our county clerk.  Our analysis shows that a tax freeze would result in a $0.12 reduction in our tax rate, which would correlate to a loss of $120,000 in local revenue.  The County School Facilities Tax, which failed as a referendum a couple of years ago, could result in $0.55 in tax relief and no reduction in local revenue.

 

In our most recent analysis of the FY2017 budget, last year at this time, we had $1,100,000 in our Education Fund and this year we have $500,000.  Five years ago, we said that our time will come, if nothing changes, that our local revenue will no longer keep up with the demand of our organization.  We have consistently kept our growth in spending below the growth of our local revenue on a percentage basis.  We also said five years ago, we have to weather the next two years, we can’t imagine that the State won’t have a solution in that period of time.  It is five years later and the only thing that has changed, we can imagine that the State won’t have a solution.

 

We want you to know,

  • We are going to do all that we can to continue to improve opportunities and experiences for our students both within and beyond the classroom. 
  • We will continue to invest in the care and maintenance of our facilities to ensure that our investments are honored. 
  • We will continue to invest in our staff to ensure that we have the very best people at the front of every classroom. 
  • We are committed to the small class sizes and the individual approach to teaching that has always been important to the LeRoy School System.
  • We will not allow the State to take opportunity from our students.

 

The need for solutions extend far beyond our public schools, we encourage your purposeful engagement in the advocacy for a solution and a predictable commitment to the betterment of our State and our citizens.  Your elected member of the House of Representatives: Bill Mitchell and your elected member of the Senate: Chapin Rose.