Governor Bruce Rauner
Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Dear Governor Rauner,
As school districts that educate some of the most challenged students in the state, we are struggling under the
weight of a broken funding formula that hits students in poor districts the hardest. Even as our students and
teachers strive daily – and make important academic gains – they are under the constant threat of deeper and
more damaging budget cuts.
Illinois is the worst state in the nation when it comes to addressing funding gaps that hamstring our most
vulnerable and challenged students, according to countless independent experts including The Education
Trust. The most important number for an Illinois child is their zip code, because our schools rely on local
property taxes instead of state funding. This approach hurts students in all sorts of communities throughout
the state – including downstate, urban, suburban, and rural – that don’t have the ability to raise enough local
resources to provide a high quality education.
In the past, you’ve acknowledged that this funding formula is broken and must be fixed – and we believe that
the state of Illinois must live up to its responsibility of being the primary funder of education. However,
instead of working to fix how the state funds education, we are disappointed to see that your administration is
proposing an approach that would continue the broken status quo, helping districts that are already wealthy
and putting a greater burden on districts that have high concentrations of poverty.
We urge you to recommit your administration to working with the General Assembly to pass a funding
formula that treats districts fairly and doesn’t stack the deck against students who already face the greatest
Without this fix, our districts will be forced to take drastic steps in coming weeks as we plan our budgets for
• Peoria Public Schools will need to find $2.4 million in cost savings, with cuts to athletic and after
school academic programs.
• Without a change to the formula, Berwyn South School District 100 will increase class sizes and
decrease extracurricular activities as well as reduce critical academic supports. By maintaining the
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current funding approach, decisions must be made on whether or not to establish grade centers and
• North Chicago School District 187 has already eliminated $2 million from their budget and will see a
decrease of nearly $700,000 next year in GSA funding under the current formula.
• Under the current formula, Waukegan School District stands to lose $1.4 million in GSA funding.
This means limited resources to address the inherent needs of a high population of special needs
students and English Language Learners.
• Taylorville School District has already been hit hard by proration, which has reduced district staff by
28 percent. By maintaining the current funding approach, the reduction of staff will continue next
year, resulting in higher class sizes – and potential reduction of curricular and extracurricular
offerings for students.
• Under the state’s current funding approach, Vandalia School District has had to cut 11 percent of
teaching and support staff in the past five years, resulting in increased class sizes in grades K-5, a
reduction of fine arts and vocational opportunities for grades 6-10, and the elimination of athletic
supplies and transportation for all district teams.
• Pana CUSD 8 has already reduced teaching staff by 20 percent, support staff by 15 percent,
administrative and staff by 25 percent. They have also made a 30 percent reduction in the budget for
classroom supplies. These changes have resulted in cuts to after school programs, and reduced the
reading and math supports to elementary classrooms. By maintaining the current funding approach,
elementary class sizes will swell, and a region that depends on vocational training will have to make
further cuts to those programs.
• Due to minimal fund balances and uncertainty around the state funding formula, West Aurora School
District 129 has had to reduce their FY ’17 budgets by $3 million.
• Sandoval Community Unit School District 501 has reduced supports to such a degree that a third
grade student does not have art, a librarian, foreign language, extracurriculars, 21st century
technology, summer school, tutoring, or access to a social worker. Families are taking note, and the
community is suffering.
• Since fiscal year 2013, East Moline School District #37 has reduced expenditures by $1.2 million.
Positions that have a direct impact on children, many of whom are low-income and English Learners,
have been cut. These positions include librarians, classroom teachers, interventionists, aides, and
• In East Aurora School District, students over four years take 12 percent fewer classes than
neighboring districts – which puts them at a disadvantage for success in college and career. Under
the current funding formula, this discriminatory approach will continue to hurt these and other
• Granite City School District 9 has already closed three schools, in addition to reducing teaching staff
by 13 percent, administrative staff by 15.6 percent and support staff by 2.19 percent. Under your
budget proposal, our funding would decrease by another $600,649.
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• In East St. Louis District 189, where taxpayers shoulder one of the highest tax rates in the state
(10.83%), students are already suffering from one of the lowest Equalized Assessed Valuations
(EAV) at $18,000 per student. Under your proposed budget, GSA funding would decrease by
• In the past four years, Harrisburg School District 3 has lost over $3.85 million due to the current and
inequitable approach to school funding. This has meant cutting teaching staff by 10 percent,
administrative staff by 10 percent, and support staff by 30 percent. While under your proposal,
Harrisburg sees an increase of $34,259, districts with fewer low-income students receive
significantly higher amounts of funding.
• And in Chicago, passing your budget would mean cutting schools by an additional $74 million,
exacerbating a $1 billion budget deficit, jeopardizing the progress our students are making. It would
mean fewer summer school slots for students who need extra help, teacher layoffs and higher class
sizes, and less after-school tutoring in reading and math, among many other likely cuts.
We’ve seen action in the General Assembly toward fixing our state’s broken funding formula. We hope that
in the brief time that remains for the General Assembly to pass a budget, you dedicate your administration’s
attention to fixing the formula, not toward maintaining one that is widely accepted to be the worst in the
Despite our challenges, the students and schools in our districts are making and will continue to make the
kind of academic progress that leads the nation. However, your administration’s approach not only
jeopardizes our students’ future, but the opportunities for them to invest in and strengthen our state’s
communities and businesses.
Dr. Jennifer Garrison
Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools
Sandoval CUSD 501
Peoria Public Schools
Dr. Donaldo R. Batiste
Dr. David Lett
Waukegan Public Schools
Harrisburg CUSD 3
Pana School District 8
Dr. Jeff Craig
West Aurora SD 129 Granite City SD 9 North Chicago Community
Unit School District
Dr. Michael Popp
East St. Louis SD 189 Berwyn South SD 100 Superintendent
Dr. Greggory Fuerstenau
Aurora East USD 131
Superintendent Superintendent Rich Well
Taylorville CUSD3 East Moline SD 37 Superintendent
Vandalia CUSD 203