House Bill 3053 would prioritize classrooms, students and teachers over bureaucracy in education funding
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (March 28, 2019) — A bipartisan bill that could provide Illinoisans needed property tax relief passed unanimously on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives today. Championed by state Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, House Bill 3053 would be a step toward ensuring more education dollars in Illinois are spent on students, teachers and classrooms rather than administration.
In Illinois, “general administration” costs total $536 per student, higher than all neighboring states and nearly double the national average. This is due to the state’s overabundance of school districts, which serve far too few students per district when compared with other states.
The bill looks to reduce Illinois’ 852 school districts, which account for nearly two-thirds of all property taxes collected statewide. A reduction in school districts would generate savings by decreasing administrative bloat and allowing more education dollars to reach the classroom.
“We applaud Rep. Mayfield’s efforts to bring Illinois’ number of school districts closer to the national average, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Her bill could enable real, much-needed property tax relief,” said Adam Schuster, director of budget and tax research for the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute. “When you look at the research, many states are able to achieve better educational outcomes with fewer resources. That shows Illinois has a hole: too many costly administrators who are taking dollars away from the classroom. Under this bill, nothing related to individual schools will change and more money will go to classrooms over bureaucracy.”
The bill would create the School District Efficiency Commission, comprised of 20 education experts from across the state, tasked with making recommendations to reduce the number school districts by at least 25 percent. Those recommendations would then go to local voters’ ballots in November 2020.
109 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill with none opposed. It now moves to the Senate with state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, carrying it to a vote.
- Illinois spends $1,878 more per student than the national average. But education dollars in Illinois are not making it to the classrooms, teachers and students who need them.
- Illinois spends $2,400 to $4,000 more per student than neighboring states Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana. Yet, all three states score better on K-12 math and reading proficiency, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress.
- From 1992 to 2015, non-teaching and administrative education staff in Illinois grew by 49 percent, nearly 4.5 times faster than the K-12 student body population. This has exacerbated the property tax burden on Illinois homeowners.
- Reducing Illinois’ 852 school districts by 25 percent would bring the state closer to the national average for number of total school districts.
- Illinois serves far fewer students per school district compared with other large states with student populations greater than 1 million, as well as compared with the national average. If Illinois served the same number of students per district as California, the state would have about 340 districts. If students served per district matched that of Virginia, Illinois would only have 210 school districts.
- Voters could see the School District Efficiency Commission’s recommendations on the November 2020 ballot.
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