According to Education Trust’s February 2018 analysis of United States school funding equity by state, school districts across the nation that serve high populations of color and students from low income families continue to receive less funding than those that serve white and more affluent students. In Illinois, the districts serving the most students of color receive at least 15 percent less funds.
Data shows that the highest poverty districts in Illinois receive $3,380 or 22 percent less in funding than the lowest poverty district per student. When adjusted for the additional needs of low income students, those numbers increase to $4,281 or 29 percent less per student than the lowest poverty districts. In comparison with the funding gaps of 45 other states, Illinois comes in last, falling behind with an approximate 20 percent gap in funding between its lowest and highest poverty districts (before adjustments).
In addition to poverty, funding inequities occur in districts serving the most students of color; these districts tend to receive less state and local funding than districts serving the fewest: $2,573 or 18 percent less per student than districts serving the fewest students of color. In this category, Illinois falls second to last in comparison with other states, beating only Nebraska by about 6 percent. Illinois’ regressive trends have persisted since the 2015 report which led to a new school funding formula developed by Advance Illinois and other parties. This formula went into effect in August 2017 with the goal of implementing a more equitable distribution of state funds to the neediest districts. Stakeholders can look forward to the results of these reform efforts in years to come.