Published: January 6, 2005

Finance Snapshots


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Plaintiffs in Illinois have waged two unsuccessful court cases against the state, one in 1996 based on equity, and another in 1999 based on adequacy. The Illinois legislature, however, responded to the cases by creating an Education Funding Advisory Board to review the school finance system and by conducting an adequacy study. The state also has increased education funding by $775 million over the past two years. Illinois pays for education through a foundation formula with a base amount of $4,964 in fiscal 2005, except for districts that can raise 175 percent or more of that amount. Those districts only receive $218 per student. A minimum tax rate is assumed for each district type, but levying the tax is not required for districts to receive state aid. Instead, the state assumes local districts will raise the revenue and adjusts state aid accordingly. The state foundation formula does not include weights or adjustments for student or district characteristics, but the state provides targeted funds through 42 categorical programs. In fiscal 2004, the money appropriated for those programs totaled $1.96 billion. The five largest provide support for transportation, several special education services, and high-cost special education students. Illinois began dedicating lottery revenue to K-12 education in 1985. About $550 million went to schools from the lottery in fiscal 2005.

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