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Public School Funding Interviews

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Public School Funding Interviews

Mark Armstrong - Public School Funding

Mark Armstrong, the Kane (IL) County Supervisor of Assessments, reviews the property assessment process, and how that impacts the availability of funding for Illinois' public schools. Property taxes provide the majority of funding for local Illinois public schools. He covers the training requirements to be an assessor, the timetable for property assessments, and terms and processes used by local assessors. Armstrong also discusses the different types of property (commercial, industrial, residential, farmland, coal mines, minerals, etc), and the assessor's relationship with the local Boards of Review, county clerks and treasurers.

Jason Barickman - Public School Funding

Senator Jason Barickman discusses his involvement with the effort to change Illinois's school funding formula. He discusses the legislative period from 2012 to 2019. He reviews the challenges in the previous school formula, including funding inequities, the cutbacks found in downstate schools due to the lack of revenue, the negative impact of pro-rating state aid for the neediest schools, and issues related to the state budget (or lack of one) including rising pension and Medicaid costs. He talks about how the new evidence based school funding model became the preferred choice for funding reform, which included support from grass root groups like Vision 20/20, as well as past and present school funding court cases, and various governor commissions.

Ben Boer - Public School Funding

Benjamin Boer discusses his work on the inequities of Illinois Public School Funding as Deputy of Research for Advance Illinois, a non-profit organization focusing on Illinois public education questions. He discussed Illinois Public School funding from 2008-2018, examining state budgeting for public schools, and the negative impact of pro-ratio funding on poorer school districts. Ben reviewed the various legislative school funding bills from 2014-17, Governor Rauner’s Legislative Funding Commission, Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1947, which led to the adoption of a new evidence based school funding formula.

Joshua Cauhorn - Public School Funding

Josh Cauhorn reviews research he conducted while at Loyola University on Illinois' public school funding. This research included a review of the 1970 Illinois State Constitution and the constitution's Article X on Education. He also studied the 1973 School Reform Act, which led to what he describes as a golden age of state funding at 48%. Cauhorn's research also examined the decline in state funding since that time, as well as the various lawsuits that followed. Finally, he discussed the Education Funding Advisory Council's 2014 recommendations that later led in 2017 to a new Illinois School Funding evidence-based model.

Will Davis - Public School Funding

Rep. Will Davis discussed the path to a new educational funding formula for Illinois public schools during his tenure as a state representative, which began in 2003. He addressed the challenges faced in school funding reform, including pension shortfalls, school funding litigation and unsuccessful legislative efforts to make major overhauls of the system. In 2012, a greater statewide awareness of school funding problems became evident, which translated into more support for reform. Rep. Davis reviewed the Governor’s Commission 2016, Senate Bill 1 introduced in 2016 and the eventual passage of SB 1947 which led to the New Evidence Based School Funding Model. Rep. Davis also discussed how this school funding model became the dominant one accepted by many across the state.

Larry Frank - Public School Funding

Larry Frank discusses his involvement in a major Illinois school funding lawsuit (Committee for Educational Rights v Edgar) which was heard by the Illinois Supreme Court in the early-mid 1990’s. This suit dealt with the lack of equity found in Illinois school districts (A Tale of Two Cities). He also addressed his efforts to collect data for the lawsuit, and his meetings with school districts and organizations to develop greater understanding of the statewide school funding problem. In addition, Larry reviews the unsuccessful effort to amend Article X of the State Constitution and the impact of this litigation on future state funding efforts.

Thomas Geoghegan - Public School Funding

Thomas Geoghegan discusses his involvement in an on-going Illinois school funding lawsuit, initiated in 2017, where twenty-seven Illinois school districts charged that the state of Illinois had not provided their districts with adequate funding. That claim was based on the State Board of Education's own criteria and formula for maintaining a high level of academic achievement. This lawsuit asserts that the result of this funding shortfall is a climate where students and schools are rated as deficient even though the funding for that school is below the adequacy mark.

Michael Griffith - Public School Funding

Michael Griffith is a nationally recognized expert on school funding models, and in this interview he looks at how the fifty states provide funding to their public schools. Most use the Foundation Model, a few use a Resource Allocation Model, and others use some other hybrid system. Michael discusses the recent history of Illinois's school funding, including its previous school formula, the new Evidence Based Model, and the state's dependency on property taxes for the majority of its school funding. In the process, he reviews why changes in school funding formulas have taken place.

Rob Grossi - Public School Funding

Rob Grossi, Ed.D., discusses his involvement with Illinois school funding based upon his thirty-three years as a Township School Treasurer (Bloom Township). Currently, Dr. Grossi works with thirteen school districts in Bloom Township and five school districts or Regional Offices of Education outside of the township. He talks about the historic role of the township school treasurer which dates back to 1819. In 1962, the General Assembly abolished this position in all counties but Cook. Currently thirteen Township School Treasurers exist in Cook County. Other topics discussed included investment practices, relationships with school district business officials, treasurer certification, procedures related to activity/imprest funds, audits, revenue sources, payroll, and trustee governance.

Douglas Henning - Public School Funding

Doug Henning discusses his involvement in a school litigation case in 2017 which argued that the Illinois State Board of Education had created a two-system method of funding that treated Chicago Public Schools (CPS) differently from the other Illinois School Districts. The suit argued that CPS, with 20% of the state’s students, were receiving only 15% of state funds. In addition, Chicago Public Schools were required to pay the full cost of CPS teacher pensions from local funds. This suit was dismissed by the Chancery Circuit Court of Cook County. CPS had the option to file an amendment regarding the pension question. Shortly afterward, the General Assembly passed a new state school funding method which solved some of the questions raised by the suit. Thus, CPS withdrew the suit.

Dr. William Hinrichs - Public School Funding

Dr. Bill Hinrichs discusses his work at the Illinois State Board of Education dealing with Illinois public school finance. He explains the funding formulas put into effect in 1973 and later in 1999. He covers the questions of adequacy, equity, and the functioning of the 1973 and 1999 formulas and talks about the role of the Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) and its objective to properly fund public schools. He explains why the disparity grew between rich and poor school districts, the impact of pro-rated state aid, and the state's growing dependency on property taxes to provide the vast majority of school revenue. Hinrichs also reviews how the three types of Illinois school districts (Unit, High School, and Elementary) along with three methods of distribution add to the complex nature of Illinois school funding.

Adrienne Hoffer - Public School Funding

Adrienne Hoffer discusses her work as an Instructional Coach for Glenview School District #34. She explains the evolution of this position over five years, with the new focus being on literacy throughout the Prk-8 Elementary District (a Tier 3 level school district regarding school adequacy). Currently, it is felt that instructional coaches and full day kindergarten will make significant impacts upon student achievement. Other topics discussed include intervention plans for students, training of teachers using the writing model, duties of an instructional coach, types of coaches found in the district (bilingual, science, math, behavior interventionist, instructional), the student writing process, and Foundation Grant Funding which helps with professional growth for teachers.

Dr. Michael Jacoby - Public School Funding

Dr. Jacoby is former school superintendant who served as the Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, as well as on the Classroom First Commission, where he helped craft the commission's twenty-three recommendations on school reorganization in Illinois.

Christine Johnson - Public School Funding

Christine Johnson, the County Treasurer for DeKalb County, explains the duties of a treasurer, especially in relation to the funding for public schools. She served as Treasurer from 1994-2011

Jason Leahy - Public School Funding

Jason Leahy Ed.D discusses his involvement with the challenges of Illinois's public school funding from the perspective of a student (Griggsville High School), a teacher (Tremont), a high school principal (Illini Central and Highland) and as Executive Director of the Illinois Principals Association. He lays out the challenges with school budget deficits, school referendums, the passage of the new Evidence Based School Funding Model, and the accountability measures found in both the Evidence Funding law and in the new federal ESSA Act (Every Student Succeeds). Other topics discussed include Vision 20/20 and its goal of creating a high quality education, the ongoing teacher shortages, professional training for principals, and school climate assessments (the Five Essentials).

Robert Lenz - Public School Funding

Robert Lenz discusses his involvement in a major Illinois school funding case (Committee for Educational Rights v Edgar), which went through the Illinois courts in the early-mid 1990’s. This unsuccessful lawsuit dealt with the disparity and lack of equity funding in Illinois school districts. Lenz also reviews the unsuccessful effort to amend Article X of the State Constitution, and the impact the 1990s funding litigation had on future state funding efforts.

Senator Andrew Manar - Public School Funding

Sen. Andy Manar discusses his early interest in improving equity in the distribution of funds for Illinois Public Schools. This interest was not only as a State Senator but as a parent and member of a County Board. Sen. Manar talks of the ups and downs in his efforts to create a more equitable state school funding formula over the course of nine years. He reviews in detail the legislative attempts, funding commissions, and listening town halls that eventually led to the landmark 2017 legislation, Senate Bill 1947, which established a new Evidence Based School Funding formula creating a more equitable funding model for Illinois's public schools.

Michelle Mangan - Public School Funding

Dr. Michelle Mangan recounts her involvement in Illinois school funding discussions through her work in educational research, teaching school finance, and testifying in the Urban League school funding litigation. She also took a leading role in Illinois task forces studying the issue of equity and adequacy. She testified before Legislative Committees on the issue, and both served and was chair of the Professional Review Panel on School Funding. Her experience as a parent of children in the public schools gave her further insight into the issues. Dr. Mangan discusses the new Evidence Based Model of funding, its philosophy in comparison to other funding models, and the 27 categories found in creating adequate funding. The initiative led to the successful passage of Senate Bill 1947 in 2017.

Stephen Miller - Public School Funding

Steve Miller is a product manager for Forecast 5 Analytical. He discusses his work as a school auditor, school business official, financial planner,and data researcher for Illinois public schools. He examines the state's new (in 2018) evidence based school funding formula, and the data collection required for its development

Anne Noble - Public School Funding

Anne Noble explains the Illinois County School Facilities Sales Tax (ICSFST), which became law in Illinois in 2007. Currently, fifty-six of the 101 eligible counties have approved this sales tax. Cook County is exempted. She discusses a variety of related topics including: how the public school districts can use these funds, what can be taxed, the ballot question, the amounts that can be levied (¼ increments up to 1%), the basis for school district allotments (students living in the county), and the role of the Department of Revenue-Regional Offices of Education. Anne also talks about other financing methods used by school district-bond sales.

Alexander Polikoff - Public School Funding

Alexander Polikoff of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) discusses his involvement in a school funding litigation case, 'Carr v Koch,' which was litigated from 2010-2012. The case originated in the Circuit Court in Sangamon County, then was heard at the Appellate Court level, and finally at the Illinois Supreme Court. The plaintiffs argued that taxpayers in poorer school district were paying higher property taxes than those in wealthier school districts, a violation of the state Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. The IL Supreme Court ultimately ruled against the plaintiffs.

Robert Pritchard - Public School Funding

Former State Representative Robert (Bob) Pritchard, Republican from Hinckley, discusses the history of Illinois public school funding from its beginning the early 1800’s. He traces the school funding debate through the late 1960’s with the new state income tax, the 1970’s with a new State Constitution (Article X), the 1980’s with the Farm Bureau’s CHIEF effort (Changing How Illinois Education is Funded), the 1990’s with Funding Commissions/Task Forces, the Constitutional Amendment vote on Article X, and the many legislative efforts in the 2000’s. He reviews the New Evidence Based Funding Model which was adopted with the successful passage of Senate Bill 1947 in 2017. He further talks about future challenges to this funding model from his perspective as a School Board member, University trustee, county board member, and farmland owner.

Sylvia Puente - Public School Funding

Sylvia Purnte explains the objectives of the Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) which she chaired and served on from 2009-2016. She also talks about her role in the state's Early Learning Council, made up of seventy individuals from both the private and public sectors. Sylvia also discusses bilingual education in the new Evidence Based School Funding model. Among the Chicago Public School issues she reviews are the 1995 Chicago Reform Act and the work being done by the Latino Policy Forum.

Elizabeth Beth Purvis - Public School Funding

Beth Purvis discusses her work as Secretary of Education under Governor Bruce Rauner while government officials worked on a new public school funding model from 2014-2017. She explained the impact that public school funding had during difficult budget negotiations, the importance of the Legislative Commission on School Funding (2016-2017), and the various educational funding bills which eventually led to House Bill 1947. That legislation resulted in the creation of the Evidence Based Public School Funding model and its accountability component. Beth also discussed the definition of adequacy, the best ways to distribute state funds, and topics such as hold harmless, local capacity target, charter funding, intra-district equity, mandate relief, private school tax credits, third party contracting, and transparency. Also discussed was the debate on Chicago public school pensions and the Chicago Public School Block grant.

Randy Reitz - Public School Funding

Randy Reitz, who served as Bond County Clerk from 1995-2017, explains the duties of the County Clerk. Those include managing the property tax cycle, overseeing school referendums, school levies, school budgets, and school bond schedules. Other County Clerk duties were also discussed, including serving as the registrar of county records, dealing with Tax Increment Financing districts (TIF)/ enterprise zones and being clerk for the County Board. He also provided genealogical searches. Bond County is one of the state’s oldest, dating back to 1818. Heavily agricultural and residential, with limited commercial and industrial types of property, approximately two thirds of the county's tax levy go to K-12 school districts.

Wendy Ryerson - Public School Funding

Wendy Ryerson serves as the Supervisor of Assessments for Lee County, Illinois, a position she has held since 2000. She describes the duties of the Supervisor of Assessments during the property tax cycle, and talks about the three ways of determining land value (income, sales, and cost) as well as local and state multipliers. Ryerson also addresses the different types of property (commercial, industrial, residential, and farmland) and tax exemptions (homestead, disabled, senior, active veterans, and senior low income). She describes how wind turbine values were set due to Lee County being the first in the state, the ethics of her profession and the role of the Illinois Department of Revenue. Roughly 65% of Lee County's local taxes go to the school districts.

Matthew Shipley - Public School Funding

Matt Shipley discusses Illinois public school funding issues, with a focus on Site Based Reporting, which is tied to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA replaced No Child Left Behind. He also explores district revenue sources, expenditure challenges, the role of school audits, and the impact of the Evidence Based funding model.

Angela Smith - Public School Funding

Angela Smith examines how West Aurora School District #129, a west suburban unit school district, has been funded over the past thirteen years. She discusses the district's successful operation and capital referendums, as well as the impact of the new Evidence Based Model for a Tier 1 school district. Smith also looks at the revenue and expenditure sides of the district's budget, including the benefits from Qualified Construction Bonds (Federal) and support from local foundations.

Robin Steans - Public School Funding

Robin Steans discusses the formation in 2008 of the non-profit organization, Advance Illinois. Advance Illinois was active in the effort to create a more equitable and adequate school funding formula for Illinois Public Schools. Robin was the director of Advance Illinois (two different terms) during this effort, which began shortly after state budget declines around 2010. Robin also explains her role on the Professional Rules Committee which reviews the progress of the New Evidence Based School Funding Model. Advance Illinois has also submitted reports on Principal/Teacher Training, stronger learning standards, early childhood education, school report cards, longitudinal studies of student progress, and career/college readiness.

Gary Tipsord - Public School Funding

Gary Tipsord discusses the issues of Illinois public school funding covering the years from 1986 to 2019. As the superintendent LeRoy CUSD, he focused on the impact of prior school funding formulas which typically resulted in low levels of funding support for rural districts. He also talked about the challenges of the pro-rated school funding formulas, the importance of local resources, and the movement toward the new Evidence Based Funding formula. Additionally, Tipsord addressed the issues of school consolidation and the district's sharing of programs.

Toni Waggoner - Public School Funding

Toni Waggoner discusses her work on public school financing during her long tenure at the Illinois State Board of Education from 1979 to 2010. She explains the functioning of the state's school funding formula and the role of the Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB). Toni explains why a disparity grew between rich and poor school districts, and Illinois public schools' growing dependency on property taxes, providing the vast majority of revenue. She also discussed the role of Average Daily Attendance (ADA), local property wealth, Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), Corporate Personal Property, the Foundation Level, and the Poverty grant. All of these impacted the amount of state funds given to a local public school district.

Ron Warfield - Public School Funding

Ron Warfield was active in Illinois agriculture and served as president of the Illinois Farm Bureau for ten years, stepping down in 2003. In the mid 2010s he served as a coordinator for Changing How Illinois Education is Funded (CHIEF) proposal which eventually contributed to the passage of Illinois's new public school funding bill in 2017. Warfield also reviews the unsuccessful effort to amend Article X of the Illinois State Constitution, and the Ikenberry School Funding Commission.

Benjamin Wolf - Public School Funding

Ben Wolf discusses his involvement in a school litigation case in 1999 where plaintiffs argued that the State Board of Education and the East St. Louis School Board had not provided a sufficient level of school funding to provide a basic education to students living in the school district. During the four-years of litigation, the case was heard by the Circuit, Appellate, and Supreme Courts of Illinois. Problems found in East St. Louis schools involved unsafe building conditions, lack of certified teachers, ghost payrolls, lack of equipment, high dropout rates and low test scores.

Aaron Butler - Public School Funding

Dr. Aaron Butler discusses how the American Institutes for Research, a non-profit federally funded research lab, assists states and school districts throughout the United States. Topics he addressed include state and district ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) site-based spending plans, school improvement plans and Great Teachers and Leaders training. Butler also talks about monitoring the progress of a school's improvement, school turnarounds and evidence based research.

Ralph Martire - Public School Funding

Ralph Martire, Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, headquartered in Chicago, looks at the shortcomings of Illinois's former school funding model and how a new Evidence Based Funding Model was first presented in 2011. It was gradually accepted by lawmakers, educators, and think tank groups over a six year period and adopted in 2017. Martire discussed the inequities in school funding that were found in the previous funding formula, which led Illinois to be the worst of the fifty states in school funding equity.

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