Rev. James Meeks. Governor Rauner’s pick as ISBE Chairman and charter school advocate.
The Illinois State Board of Education Wednesday unanimously moved to change the way the state sends special education money to school districts, aiming to increase base funding to poor districts with the resources that are currently available.
ISBE is proposing to take an entire $300 million special education line item, Funding for Children Requiring Special Education Services, and distribute it thru the General State Aid formulas.
This means all schools will lose special ed funding while some schools gain significant General State Aid funding.
According to the AP, this would increase the amount of general state aid per student, with districts left on their own to determine how much should be apportioned to each student for special education services.
Remember under General State Aid, some schools receive flat grants of less than $300 per student, while others receive over $4,000 per student.
But ISBE also proposes to provide Charters Schools with $300,000 for a NEW line item: State Charter School Funding for Children with Disabilities.
The proposed ISBE budget gives this justification:
Of course this new funding is only for the lost funding for charter schools, and NO provision is made for any regular public school that loses money.
Also ISBE is recommending less than full funding for Special Education Private Tuition, that any increase be limited to the minimum amount needed to meet the Federal Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements of the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
ISBE also wants general statutory language to direct ISBE to calculate each district’s prorate share of the amount needed from the total net General state aid funding to be utilized for the provision of special education services in a manner that ensures compliance with the IDEA MOE requirement.
One Board member of ISBE who was critical feared that there would be little to no monitoring of districts in terms of Maintenance Of Effort so each local school district does not spend less money on special education next school year as compared to this school year.
This is just round one that will now go to the Illinois GeneralAssembly that is still considering whether it will change all of school funding. The proposal that originally passed in the State Senate would have taken away huge amounts of money from special education, and the latest Senate bill would abolish all school funding formulas in June of 2017 (hoping that new ones would be agreed to by then, or if not, all the money might be given to ISBE to distribute, according to the spokesperson for Senate President Cullerton).