By Joshua Stafford
Vienna High School Superintendent
Evidence Based Funding numbers have been released by the Illinois State Board of Education for school year 2018-19. This continues to be solid evidence of how far each school in the state is either away from adequate funding or in some examples exceeds what has been established as adequate funding by in excess of 180%. This data displays the funding disparity that still exists. In regard to Vienna High School we are at 54% of adequate funding which ranks us as the 3rd, yes that is correct the 3rd, least adequately funded school district out of over 850 in the state. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Roundout School District in Lake County which is funded at 280%
With the Evidence Based Funding Formula being in its second fiscal year of implementation, with a very late release of tier funding in FY2018 which is not expected moving into the future, we are still in recovery mode in terms of financial status. The extreme burden that the old funding formula had placed us under created many situations in which we cut and or reduced programs and offerings for students. Additionally, we had delayed many routine and capital maintenance related items.
The second year of funding is allowing us to take strategic steps to implement enhanced programs and offerings along with addressing much needed building and other capital related maintenance items. Some examples of our strategic rebuilding include restoring a full time chemistry/physics position to our science department, restoring a full time principal to the high school, adding another part time foreign language teacher, expanding current vocational offerings by participating in a construction trade program, expanding college level offerings in partisanship with the community college, replacing curriculum that had textbooks dating back to the 1980s and 90s, along with numerous other items. Many of these initial steps have been intentionally aimed at reducing classes sizes which were trending at over 30 students. As we move forward our primary focus will be on enchaining instruction and addressing support services for students.
Beyond impacting areas related directly to student instruction we have also been involved in the second phase of a multi phase Health Life Safety/building maintenance plan this summer. We were able to work with local architects and contracts to replace the 1967 HVAC system in one of our buildings. Future phases will include the capital related needs of the entire district in regard to everything from grounds and physical plant related items to vehicles within our transposition fleet and improved learning environments.
While the battle for school funding has been and will likely continue to be a long road it would be an error on my part not to express my gratitude to students, teachers, staff, parents, and the entire community for pulling together and ensuring the best possible results for children and young adults in our community. Thank YOU!
For more information please visit the Evidence-Based Funding Distribution Calculation page on Illinois State Board of Educations website at https://www.isbe.net/