February 21, 2017

Conference will explore fair school funding

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is hosting a one-day conference on March 10 to examine fair school funding in Illinois. 

A recent report of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, will be examined during the conference, which is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Student Center. Speakers will include lawmakers who have been part of the commission’s deliberations, along with state and national experts on the subject. 

“Paul Simon called attention to problems caused by the state’s over-reliance on property taxes to fund its K-12 schools when he was first elected to the Illinois General Assembly in the 1950s,” Jak Tichenor, interim institute director, said. “Sixty years later, per pupil spending still varies wildly between the state’s poorer and wealthier districts as a result. We welcome all residents, parents, teachers, school administrators, and students to learn about the Commission’s roadmap to finally fix the way we fund our schools.” 

This conference is free and the public is invited. A complimentary continental breakfast and coffee will be available. A catered lunch and an all-day parking pass are available for $23 at the time of registration, but are not required. Other lunch options are available in the Student Center. 

The conference will feature the following sessions: 

  • 8:45 a.m. -- Illinois K-12 Funding in Comparison to Other States -- Daniel Thatcher, program principal for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thatcher tracks statewide education finance developments and Common Core State Standards implementation and legislation.
  • 9:45 a.m. -- Evidence-based Model Presentation – Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Budget and Tax Accountability. Martire will outline his organization’s analysis of the potential benefits of the Evidence-Based Model (EBM) of school funding under consideration by the Illinois Commission on School Funding Reform. EBM is designed to identify the level of funding needed to deliver an adequate education to ever student in a state.
  • 11 a.m. -- Illinois Commission on School Funding Reform Panel Discussion -- An in-depth discussion by members of the bi-partisan commission tasked by Gov. Rauner to make recommendations to the General Assembly to revise the state’s school funding formula. Featured panelists include: Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis, state Sens. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, and Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, and Brent Clark, executive director, Illinois Association of School Administrators.
  • 1:30 p.m. -- A User’s Guide for Budget Development Utilizing the Evidence-Based Model of Education Funding -- Features a panel discussion of school superintendents led by Brent Clark, executive director, Illinois Association of School Administrators. The discussion will provide those attending with information they will need to develop their first year’s budget if the state adopts the Evidence-Based Model to fund K-12 schools. Panelists include: Gary Kelly, Du Quoin Community Unit School District; Steve Murphy, Carbondale Community High School District, and Steve Webb, Goreville Community Unit School District.

A total of 5.0 professional Development hours will be available for school administrators and teachers, sponsored by the university’s Department of Continuing Education and Professional Development. A total of 5.0 continuing education credits will be available for social workers and licensed counselors (LSW, LCSW, LPC, LCPC), sponsored by the Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development and the SIU School of Medicine.

For more information and to register online, visit http://paulsimoninstitute.siu.edu/event-information/illinois-school-funding-fairness.php or call Leslie Brock, SIU Conference and Scheduling Services, at 618/536-7751 to complete registration by phone.