School funding bill's 'hold harmless' described as rooted in CPS bias
Any Chicago suburbanite who thinks the “hold harmless” provision of Senate Bill 1 is a good idea had better take a closer look, Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, said recently.
“They (school districts) won’t get less than what they are getting today, but when the money runs out there’s going to be cuts and there’s going to be lots of surprises,” Dabrowski told Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson of "Chicago’s Morning Answer" radio show.
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Under SB1, the state's school funding formula will become evidence based and includes so-called best practices that schools are expected to follow, such as employee-to-student ratios, minimum hiring requirements for principals and assistants, and per-pupil expenditures.
Dabrowski said if a school district doesn't live up to those best practices, it will see its funding hurt.
“Districts could lose their funding if they don’t follow it," he said. "It’s hard to know how these formulas play out, but they are very political; they’re meant to drive more money to Chicago."
Dabrowski also said the new school funding formula will lead to higher taxes.
“This formula counts on $3 billion to $6 billion more in yearly funding for it to actually work, so just be on the lookout for the next tax hike when they need more money for this,” Dabrowski said.
If a school district loses part of its general state aid, its community will feel the financial pinch, according to Dabrowski.
“They’re going to see their property taxes go up because they’ll need to fund their own school,” Dabrowski said. “This is a horrible deal if you are a suburb that spends a lot of money on education from their own pockets through property taxes. It’s a lose-lose for them.”
Dabrowski sees the evidence-based model as the Democrats way of making the state government grow and taking more control from local communities.
He also believes the formula is good for Chicago but bad for the state.
“This bill calls for $6 billion more in yearly spending," Dabrowski said. "After the tax hike we just had, it’s the last thing we need."