State Report Names School District U-46 a Bright Spot of Future Investment

  • September 22, 2017
  • Terry Gajewski

The non-profit lender and public policy group IFF named School District U-46 a `Bright Spot for Future Investment,’ in a report released last week. Findings of the report will be part of a Monday IFF panel discussion in Chicago among state and education advocates and leaders, including Chief Executive Officer Tony Sanders.

The Report, Raising Quality, Promoting Equity: An Analysis of Location, Performance, and Investment in Illinois Public Schools, maps the substantial need for high-performing public schools across the state and provides essential data on both the adequacy and equity of school funding levels, as well as on the effectiveness of district spending on student achievement. Its findings strongly reinforce the state’s recent adoption of an evidence-based funding formula to ensure that all schools have sufficient funds to provide a quality education and recommend a more holistic approach to school improvement.

“This report offers a smart analysis for why we needed to change the state education funding formula,” said CEO Sanders.” Anyone who wants to better understand how we have funded or failed to fund education should read this report.”

The report, based on 2013-14 data,  highlights the state’s second-largest district saying “ “SD U-46, which was nearly keeping pace with the state academically despite a funding gap and a high-need student body, had a high return on investment. It also had one of the lowest ratios between overhead and instructional spending in the state: for every dollar spent in the classroom, SD U-46 spent only thirty-one cents on overhead. Overall, K-12 operational expenditure in this high-poverty, low-wealth school district had a high impact on reading and math outcomes. It seems likely to put additional funds to good use, but the district appeared to be tapping out its local resources in 2013-14 and would need additional state support in order to provide students, teachers, and school leaders with more resources.”

On Monday, IFF will host a lunch and panel discussion at The Urban League Club in Chicago on the report and the past four years of work towards an equitable funding formula. WBEZ’s Kate Grossman will moderate the discussion and panelists include State Senator Jason Barickman, SD U-46 CEO Tony Sanders, and IFF researcher Dr. Jovita Baber. 

“The real power of this report is in the community-level data and framework for action – this information can help education stakeholders be more strategic,” said IFF CEO Joe Neri.  “School improvement should not be simply about more accountability or more funding. It should be about providing schools with adequate funds, based on their documented needs, and then holding schools and school districts accountable for results over time -- both in terms of their academic performance and in how effective their spending is in delivering that performance."