When the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) formula passed in 2017, it promised to direct more state resources to the school districts that had been historically underfunded and to students with greater needs. Now, a new report by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability shows that the EBF formula is doing exactly that. Educating Illinois: A Look at the Evidence-Based Funding Formula illustrates how the EBF formula is benefitting students across Illinois, but especially those who have attended underfunded schools. However, there is still a long way to go until every school in Illinois is adequately funded, and on April 26th, you’ll have a chance to join advocates from across Illinois in Springfield to ask legislators to accelerate EBF funding.

Advocacy Day

The Funding Illinois’s Future coalition, of which Illinois has been a part of from the beginning, is hosting an Advocacy Day in Springfield on April 26, 2023 to call on legislators to increase EBF funding to $550 million for FY24. The coalition is planning to supply t-shirts, handouts for legislators, lunch, and buses from Chicago and perhaps other areas to Springfield. You can sign up to attend here

The tentative schedule for Advocacy Day includes meetings with legislators from around 11am until 1pm, a rally in the capitol rotunda at 1:30pm, and a final meeting with legislators just after 3pm. You can find your legislators and their contact information using Voter Voice by using the “Find Officials” tool in the sidebar and entering your address. Click the checkboxes next to your state senator and state representative, hit the “Compose Message” button at the bottom of the page, and write a quick e-mail asking for a chance to meet with them on April 26.

How EBF is Doing

The CTBA report shows how the EBF formula is working as designed. Illinois has increased state funding of public education by $1.6 billion through the new formula, and along with growth in local school revenues, the total statewide adequacy gap has declined from $5.21 billion in FY18 (the first EBF funding year) to $3.68 billion this year (FY23).

EBF is also addressing the structural racism in the previous funding formula in addition to improving funding overall. The per pupil funding gap faced by black students in FY18 was $3,770, but has now dropped by $1,142 to $2,628 in FY23. For Latino students, the gap has similarly closed, dropping from $3,958/pupil to $2,830/pupil from FY18 to FY23. Low-income students and English Language Learners are also seeing similar-sized drops in their funding gaps as well.

However, EBF is benefiting students of all races and regions. The Downstate region has seen the greatest increase per pupil of state funding under EBF, and white students have received 37% of all new funding (tied with Latino students).

The EBF formula is working, as CTBA’s Executive Director Ralph Matire has stated, “the EBF is one of those rare public policy initiatives that is truly working as intended. Schools, and hence students, in every region of Illinois have benefited from the new state investments in K-12 education since the EBF’s inception in FY 2018. And just as promised, the EBF has effectively targeted the vast majority of new education funding to: districts with the least amount of resources in comparison to their needs; supporting students who have been historically marginalized; and reducing educational funding gaps by race, ethnicity, and income that were created under Illinois’ prior school funding formula.”

Still Far to Go

While the EBF formula is working, we still have a long way to go. Over half of Illinois students still attend a school that is below 75% adequate funding. Recent estimates have put all Illinois schools reaching full funding sometime between 2038 and 2042 (for reference, many members of the Class of 2038 are still being potty trained). We need to accelerate state funding for EBF so yet another generation of Illinois students do not have to attend underfunded schools.

By increasing EBF funding from $350 million/year (what the General Assembly has currently been doing) to $550 million/year, we can fully fund schools by about 2033. The state currently has the resources to do this, and they are not from one-time federal COVID funds, but from sustainable Illinois revenues. Join us in Springfield on April 26th to ask our legislators to increase EBF funding now. Our children are counting on us.