Comparing Education Funding Proposals: Understanding Data on District Gains/Losses

The Illinois State Board of Education recently released a model that shows the distribution of education funding under HB 2808, Amendment 1 (click “House Bill 2808 Davis” at the link). They have previously released a model of the funding proposal considered by the Governor’s Commission on School Funding Reform (click on “Evidence Based Funding Proposal” at the link). There are no other current or official models released by the Illinois State Board of Education for any other bills this session. All districts in these models gain money. There are also other models on this same website that are on prior legislation from prior General Assemblies that are no longer under consideration. 

Since there are many ways to present numbers, we offer this guide to help you understand any numbers that may be presented to you. 

Here are a few quick guidelines for determining if there are gains or losses in a model and the amount of those gains or losses: 

Compare the amount a district gets in the base year, FY2016, and the amount the district would get from the application of the model in the following year. 

In the current and official models from ISBE, the models would compare the amount a district received in actual FY16 disbursements to the amount it would receive if a new funding proposal were applied in FY17. 

When looking at an increase (or decrease), the key is to know what base the new funding is being compared to. 

Here are a few quick guidelines for determining if you can do an apples-to-apples comparison between models: 

Is the model from the current year? 

Funding reform proposals have been offered over the past several years. Bill numbers repeat from General Assembly session to session. Be sure you are looking at analysis for a bill from a current year—just because the bill number is the same doesn’t mean the content or the results are. 

ISBE keeps on its website its analysis of old bills from prior years that are not being considered and are very different from current legislation. Be certain you are looking at models for bills being considered this year! 

Are the models using data from the same year? 

Comparisons using different base years are misleading. Be sure the same base year data about a district is being used in both models. If one model starts by using school district data from 2015 and another model is using data from 2016, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. 

What is included in the base year? 

Verify that the base year data is accurate. Does it include all payments this district was expecting to receive and that are being incorporated into the new funding model? If the numbers are different then the base number was adjusted and this is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

How much new funding is being put into the system? 

If the models are using the same base year data, the next thing to look at when comparing two models is the amount of new dollars being added. An apples-to-apples comparison would need to add the same amount of new dollars to the system. If one proposal has $500 million and the other has $300 million, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. 

How do I compare gains/losses between two models? 

If the models are using the same base year, and the same amount of funding, then look at the way that the model calculates the amount of money a district gains or loses from the base year in each funding proposal. HB 2808, Amendment 1, is the only official model for legislation that ISBE has released this session, and all districts gain money in this model. 

Here are a few fast facts on the model of HB 2808, Amendment 1: 

  • No districts lose money in HB 2808, Amendment 1. There is a complete hold harmless for all school districts. 
  • This model is based on school district data collected by ISBE for FY16 
  • The official model of HB 2808 is done with $350 million of new funding. 

About Fix the Formula Illinois 

Fix the Formula Illinois is a campaign of Advance Illinois, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Chicago Urban League, Educators 4 Excellence, Equity First, Funding Illinois’ Future, High School District Organizations of Illinois, Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Association of School Business Officials, Illinois for Educational Equity, Illinois Principals Association, League of United Latin American Citizens, Teach Plus Illinois, and Vision 20/20. Follow #fixtheformula on Twitter or visit