Officials in charge of taking in troubled students say Illinois’ new school funding formula leaves them shortchanged.
The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools not only serves as a go-between for the state superintendent and their schools it represents but it also manages grant-based programs for students at risk of dropping out of school.
Regional Superintendent Gregg Murphy manages Kankakee and Iroquois counties and their programs that he says provides special attention to kids at risk of expulsion so that they can either graduate or be reintegrated back to their schools.
“They would be on track to be productive, successful citizens,” he said.
Studies have shown that students who are expelled and drop out of school are more likely to be arrested later in life.
The school funding formula locked in all programs like theirs across the state to a set level that can’t increase. Murphy was appointed to a panel that advises on any unintended consequences of funding reform and says that he’ll try to get that fixed.
“The funding is, in essence, set level and cannot increase from its FY17 levels,” he said.
Murphy said the state's safe schools, truancy alternative programs, and alternative learning programs are allotted $38 million to serve roughly 6,600 students. At $5,700 per student, that's lower than the state's per-student spending average of $7,863 in the 2016-2017 school year.
Regional Superintendent Julie Wollerman of Regional Office of Education #3, covering Bond, Christian, Effingham, Fayette and Montgomery counties in central and southern Illinois, was also selected to sit on the panel.
“I am very excited to represent my colleagues and their programs that serve at-risk youth across the state,” Wollerman said in a release. “It’s imperative that we find a way to properly fund such programs in an equitable and adequate manner.”
The group’s next meeting is set for Sept. 18.