Rep. Rita Mayfield’s bill to put classrooms first passes Illinois House committee

March 24, 2021

House Bill 7 would prioritize classrooms, students and teachers over bureaucracy in education funding


MEDIA CONTACT: Melanie Krakauer (312) 607-4977

Rep. Rita Mayfield’s bill to put classrooms first passes Illinois House committee
House Bill 7 would prioritize classrooms, students and teachers over bureaucracy in education funding

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (March 24, 2021) — A bipartisan bill that could help more education dollars make their way to teachers, students and the classroom passed the Illinois House Elementary and Secondary Education committee today. Championed by state Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, House Bill 7 aims to reduce Illinois’ 852 school districts to the national average, bringing down spending on general administration that is many times above the national average.

Analysis from Illinois Policy found Illinois could save $716.6 million per year if it reduced its general administrative spending to the national average per student. Those funds could be reinvested in classrooms or be used to reduce property taxes.

The Classrooms First Act passed committee 8-0 and now enters an ongoing discussion with different stakeholders to bring it to its best possible form for students and taxpayers before moving to an Illinois House floor vote.

What HB 7 would do: 

  • The bill would create the School District Efficiency Commission, tasked with making recommendations on which districts would benefit most from consolidation, with a goal of reducing the total number of school districts by 25% to bring Illinois in line with the national average.
  • The consolidation recommendations would go directly to voters on the ballot. Parents, teachers and local taxpayers living within any affected school districts would decide on school district efficiency; there would be no forced consolidation.
  • School district consolidation refers only to reducing costs associated with district administration and the school board – jobs such as superintendents, human resources and marketing. District consolidation does not reduce the number of schools or teachers or principals or guidance counselors.

How school district efficiency works: 

  • In Illinois, district-level “general administration” costs $598 per student; higher than all neighboring states and 2.5 times the national average of $237 per student. In the past four years, both student enrollment and teacher employment at Illinois K-12 public school districts fell by 2%, while the number of administrators grew 1.5%.
  • Nearly half of Illinois school districts serve just one or two schools. Illinois is an extreme outlier in the number of school districts relative to its student population.
  • School district efficiency would allow the state to invest more in classrooms without requiring higher spending overall. The more than $700 million in potential savings equals two years of $350 million increases promised under the state’s education funding formula, but which were not delivered this year and were cut from the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Adam Schuster, senior director of budget and tax research for Illinois Policy, offered the following statement:

“It’s time to do what’s best for students, teachers and residents across the state: ensure education dollars make it into the classroom. Illinois’ excessive layers of wasteful and duplicative district bureaucracy are a barrier to this goal.

“We applaud Rep. Mayfield’s efforts and that of the entire committee. School district consolidation is a proven strategy to boost education quality and student outcomes. Illinois residents deserve a chance to decide directly on how many layers of district administration is right for their community.”

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