||“A lot depends on our ability to find appropriate alternatives to property tax funding for our schools: the region’s quality of life, our ability to compete in a global economy, and more importantly, the future for our children.”
-- Ed Schock, Mayor, City of Elgin, and, Chair, Mayors Caucus Education Reform Committee
|Education R eform Effort Underway
The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus' Education Reform Committee spent last year focused on turning its twin guiding principles, funding reform and fiscal accountability, into real change for education in Illinois. On Tuesday, April 10, 2007 the Caucus unveiled the first step in this process. On behalf of the Caucus, and with input and guidance from the Education Reform Committee, the Civic Federation produced "Strengthening the Financial Accountability of Illinois School Districts," a report which presents policy recommendations on improving the financial management accountability of Illinois school districts. To view the report, click here.
Caucus' Education Reform Committee
The need for a change in the way we fund our educational system in Illinois has been talked about for years. Legislators, educators, and others readily recognize that we need less reliance on property tax dollars as the major source of education program revenue. Currently, 60-70% of the funding that school districts receive is from property taxes. While everyone agrees alternative revenue streams are needed, few agree on what the best solution or solutions should be.
As a result of the lack of consensus, the property tax system has become taxed itself and is on the brink of not being able to provide adequate dollars to fund education. Schools, districts, and children are not making the grade. Many districts are at or near their statutory tax limits and the prospects for growth in their tax bases remain dim.
As a Caucus, we believe the time has come for local and state leaders to join forces and combine resources to arrive at alternatives.
One step we have taken is the formation of the Education Funding Reform Task Force, a group that will be studying options and making recommendations. We intend to share these recommendations with the State’s new governor and the leaders of the General Assembly in the Spring 2003 legislative session.
Whatever is proposed, we look forward to developing smart and real solutions that will provide the funding we need to give our children the best education possible.
Education Reform Position Statement
In 2004, the Caucus' Education Committee produced its Education Reform Position Statement.
This statement identifies the twin goals of funding reform and school accountability as key to the future success of the education system in Illinois. These principles have been adopted by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and guide the work of the Education Committee as it addresses education policy in the state.
Caucus to Form Statewide Accountable Schools Task Force
In spring 2006, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus called for the creation of a task force to review and evaluate the fiscal and performance accountability of Illinois’ school districts and individual schools. We joined with Democratic and Republican state legislators to sponsor HJR 119.
This Resolution passed the House on a unanimous vote and was met with strong support in the Illinois Senate. Unfortunately, the spring session ended before a final vote could occur in the Senate. However, thanks to the high level of interest in the Resolution, we plan to go ahead and form the Accountable Schools Task Force this summer and include interested members of the Legislature.
Caucus Discusses Governor Blagojevich's Education Funding Proposal
In May of 2006, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich released a proposal for increasing education funding in Illinois. The Caucus supports the generation of discussion regarding how to improve our state's education system, and appreciates the Governor's interest in this topic. In June, we submitted a letter to the editor
to a number of the region's newspapers, addressing the Governor's plan and explaining the Caucus' position and work on education reform. We hope to create and continue a dialogue with the Governor and other state leaders on this topic.