Barickman pushes for evidence-based school funding
State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) proposed two amendments on Wednesday that he argues will save Illinois money and provide school districts with the tools they need to succeed.
The amendments to Senate Bills 1124 and 1125 are intended to implement an evidence-based school funding formula for Illinois.
“SB1124 as amended will be the introduction of the evidence-based funding model,” Barickman said. “The evidence-based model embraces the framework established by the Illinois Funding Reform Commission for reforming the current school funding formula. It uses 27 elements to determine a unique adequacy target based on school district, demographics and best practices, all reflected on educational research and through consensus expert opinion. Adequacy targets are established which [will] reflect the particular needs of children in each district and will lead to improved outcomes for students.”
Barickman called the initiative a significant shift from the traditional foundation formula used today. The evidence-based model will focus on the uniqueness of each school district and tailor funding for it. It would also allocate money toward schools that are struggling and students in need.
“We then distribute money to those who need it the most or those who are the furthest from their individual adequacy targets,” he said. “We allocate additional resources as needed for children with disabilities, children who are English learners, children who live in families who are considered low income, and children who live in areas of concentrated poverty.”
Barickman’s plan would also conduct means testing to determine allocation for school districts that are low in property tax wealth but high in taxes, implement a hold-harmless or base-funding minimum to provide a safety net so that schools won’t lose money, provide transparency on spending that is easy to understand, and create a professional review panel to make recommendations to improve the funding formula and its implementation.
The second part of his legislative plan is an amendment to SB1125, which would incorporate mandated relief and mandated flexibility. While Barickman did not go into much detail, the plan is to give mandated relief for all school districts.
He stressed the need for bipartisanship support, stating that his plan would incorporate proposals from Gov. Bruce Rauner's reform commission, such as “ensuring equitable funding for charter schools.”
Barickman has long been an advocate of the evidence-based model and insisted that his proposal would provide for better parity among districts, allow for more flexibility and reduce costs.