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Pandemic School Stability Package Circulated for Co-Sponsorship

By John Forester | October 6, 2020

Today, Democrat Senators Larson and Smith and Democrat Representatives Pope and Considine circulated for co-sponsorship the Pandemic School Stability Package (see links below).  The Package consists of two bills that address five of the agenda items from the SAA Statutory Flexibility Agenda – Pupil Counts, Transportation Aid, Fund 46 Flexibility, and Suspension of Student Assessments and School Report Cards for 2020-21.  The SAA worked with the authors on the drafting of the legislation and greatly appreciates the authors’ efforts to bring attention to these important issues.  Circulating the bills for co-sponsorship is an important first step in the policy development process and we welcome the continuing discussion on these proposals.

The portions of these bills addressing student assessments, school report cards, Fund 46 and transportation aid track very closely to the intent of the corresponding items in the SAA Statutory Flexibility Agenda.  The proposal on student counts was the most challenging issue addressed in the legislation.

As you know, for 2020-21, the SAA recommended allowing school districts to use their 2019-20 pupil counts or their actual 2020-21 counts (whichever is larger) in determining revenue limits and aid.  Making this proposal a true “hold harmless” is multi-faceted (revenue limit, general aid and per pupil aid) and very complex.  The general aid portion is the most complicated because of the variables involved (property values, student counts, shared costs, etc.) in the distribution formula.  It is further complicated by the appropriation being sum certain, and not sum sufficient.  In order to make the general aid portion a true hold harmless, additional aid would have to be added to the appropriation.  Given the need for additional aid and the uncertainty of how the proposal would impact every school district, the authors chose not to address the general aid piece in the proposal.  Although the legislation is not perfect, the attention and opportunity for continued discussion it brings to this issue is critically important.

The SAA will continue to work with legislators, the Governor’s office and the DPI to push forward on the SAA Agenda through legislation, administrative rules and the state biennial budget process.

Thanks for all your efforts on behalf of the children you serve.  Stay tuned and hang in there, friends!

LRB 6474/1

LRB 6473/1

Co-Sponsorship Memo

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