State Must Boost Funding by more than $1 Billion Per Year to Meet Law’s 2027 Deadline


Illinois lawmakers have fallen far behind when it comes to meeting the 2027 deadline set in law to fully fund the state’s public schools. To catch up, the Legislature must increase state school aid by at least $1 billion each year for the next five years. Otherwise, additional generations of students, especially those in the state’s poorest districts, will continue to be deprived of their right to high quality public education under the Illinois Constitution.

These are the key findings in a new report released today by researchers at Education Law Center (ELC) and the Partnership for Equity and Education Rights Illinois (PEER IL) entitled, How Long Must Illinois Students Wait for Fully Funded Schools?. Accompanying this report are interactive charts showing the impact on the state and on school and legislative districts from lawmakers’ continued failure to fund Illinois’ landmark school funding formula, the Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success Act (EBF).

The EBF formula, signed into law by Governor Rauner in 2017, overhauled Illinois’ outmoded and inadequate public school finance system. The formula required an increased investment of more than $7 billion in state aid to adequately fund districts statewide and set a deadline for the state to reach full funding of its share of school district budgets by 2027. Yet, since 2018, lawmakers have only made the minimum contribution of $350 million in new state aid each year, with no increase in 2021.

The Legislature designed the new EBF formula to eliminate persistent disparities in school funding in Illinois districts serving high enrollments of low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities. The failure to substantially increase state aid since 2018 leaves those same funding inequities intact today.

“Our research shows the significant gap the Legislature must fill to achieve the EBF law’s objective of adequately funding every school district in the state by 2027,” said Mary McKillip, ELC Senior Researcher and the report’s author. “We hope this report serves as a wake-up call to Illinois legislators. The clock is ticking, and they must step up and increase aid substantially to meet the deadline in the law.”

“Education cannot be the ‘great equalizer’ when students in the poorest communities in Illinois are sent to deeply underfunded schools while their peers in wealthier communities can access the resources they need,” said Naoma Nagahawatte, Coordinator at PEER IL.

An example from the ELC report demonstrates the magnitude of the situation facing the Legislature. According to the EBF formula’s adequacy calculations, the Vandalia Community School District should have received $9,155 in state aid for a Vandalia kindergartener entering school in 2017, but instead received only $4,656. For that student, who finished fourth grade at Vandalia Junior High School in 2022, the state aid adequacy target grew to $9,872, but the district received only $5,720. In other words, this student was deprived of $21,500 in state funding in the first five years of their education.

Vandalia, like other school districts throughout the state, was underfunded by the state in the five school years since the formula was implemented, including during the two years when education was deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the current rate of funding, according to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, this Vandalia student will be 28 years old before her school district receives 90% of the required funding in state and local dollars needed to provide the resources to adequately educate students.

The Illinois Legislature must increase state aid well beyond the $350 million minimum to comply with the 2027 deadline for full EBF formula funding. Continuing to underfund the formula will lead to decades of inadequately resourced school districts throughout the state.

Education Law Center, founded in 1973, pursues education justice and equity to ensure that all students receive a high-quality public education effectively preparing them to participate as citizens in a democratic society and as valued contributors to a robust economy.

Partnership for Equity and Education Rights – Illinois (PEER IL) is a state-wide advocacy network focused on collaboration between school community members, organizers, lawyers, academics, researchers and policy makers on campaigns that drive reinvestment in public education. PEER IL uses a collaboration of organizing, research, legislative and legal work to develop a community-led platform and collective narrative for what fully funded education looks like in Illinois. PEER IL is part of a national effort, 10 partners across 7 states, tasked with building movements around innovative state and local solutions for education equity.

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
973-624-1815, x 240


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Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
973-624-1815, x240