From Cary Grade School District 26 Board President Scott Coffey:
Critique of Senate Bill 1
As I see it, there are two main structural problems with SB-1.
First, its basic premise is that lower income districts should get more money and yet there is no recognition of how much is already being spent on a per pupil basis in some of these districts.
It fails to recognize the Law of Diminishing Returns.
That is, after a certain point of investment, the marginal return on that incremental investment approaches zero.
As an example, Chicago D-299 Instructional Spending per Pupil is $10,396 versus Cary D-26 of $5,494/pupil.
Given that Chicago is spending 90% more per pupil, just on instruction alone, does anyone believe that increasing that level any higher is going to yield positive results in Chicago?
The math holds true for almost all the big “winners” in this bill like: Waukegan, Elgin, Rockford, Cicero, Maywood, etc.
It does also create some winners downstate which is where the incremental funding truly would yield a favorable marginal return on investment.
For example, Decatur D-61 currently has an Instructional spending rate of only $5,147/Pupil.
Downstate districts like this are the ones that have felt the largest impact due to underfunding from the State.
So, given that the bulk of the incremental $350 million is allocated to districts where their Marginal Rate of Return on Investment has approached zero, one might conclude that the bulk of this money will yield virtually no favorable academic results.
Secondly, this new methodology sets up perfectly for the future to “redistribute the wealth” from the richer districts to the poorer districts.
If you’ll recall, the original SB-1 was written as a zero-sum game.
It took money from suburban districts and reallocated to the low-income districts.
By creating a lot of “Losers” in the collar counties, the bill went nowhere.
This revised bill sets up a need-based system that has a hold-harmless feature and then allocates an additional $350 million created by the tax increase.
It doesn’t create a long list of “Losers” like the old SB-1.
It creates a set of Tiers based on Funding Adequacy to funnel incremental dollars.
If you’re in Tier 1 or 2 you’ll receive an increase.
However, Tier 3 & 4 receive next to nothing.
I foresee this methodology being used in the future by the legislature to set up a tier structure to prorate funding.
In the past, when the State didn’t have the funds to make 100% of its General State Aid payments, it would prorate every district’s funding by 89%, for example.
The legislature’s only tool was to make every district suffer the pain at the same rate.
Now, under this new funding formula, its very easy to setup a tier structure to allocate cuts based on how a district’s Local Resources compare to its Adequacy Target.
Its easy to forecast that we’ll end up in exactly the same place as was projected under the original SB-1, with suburban districts as the “Losers” and low-income/downstate districts as the winners.