April 12, 2022

Illinois Charter Public Schools Secure $35 Million in First Ever State Funding Allocation for Charter Schools’ Facilities Costs

The new state funding stream will address longstanding school facilities inequities that impact students across the state in historically underserved communities.

Chicago, Ill. –The Illinois charter public school community worked alongside champions in the state legislature to secure a $35 million allocation in the FY23 state budget to address longstanding facilities funding inequities for all Illinois charter public schools.

For years, Illinois fell behind peer states across the country on providing equitable facilities funding for charter schools. Access to facilities often creates a large financial burden for charter public schools and can take valuable resources away from the classroom. These additional financial costs have become one of the greatest causes of funding inequity between charter and district schools, despite charters educating a higher percentage of underserved students compared to their district peers.

Across Illinois, charter public schools educate over 60,000 students with a student population that is 97% students of color, and 85% qualify for free or reduced lunch. If charters were their own school district, it would be the 2nd largest district in the state based on enrollment and number of campuses.

The new state facilities funding will have a direct impact on students in the classroom and cover about half of the facilities funding gap, which will now allow charter school leaders to redirect dollars to better meet student needs. Teacher salaries, support staff, and after-school programming stands to benefit from state-provided facilities assistance.

Equitable facilities funding for charter schools is the result of tireless efforts to fight for students and educational equity. It takes a strong coalition of parents, educators, advocates, and our elected leaders to fight for our communities and secure big wins at the Capitol for charter public school students. These elected leaders know that a state investment into charter public school facilities is a direct investment into their communities and constituents. The new state dollars will spur local economic activity and create more jobs, beautify community assets, and invest in our state’s future leaders – our students.

“INCS is proud to have achieved one of our core legislative priorities after years of lobbying and advocacy work at the Capitol securing equitable state facilities funding for charter public school students,” said Andrew Broy, President of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS). “INCS is honored to serve our communities and we are dedicated to continuing our advocacy efforts on behalf of our member charter schools throughout Illinois.”

INCS’ focus now shifts to the implementation of the state charter facilities funding. We will work with our legislative allies, the Governor’s Office, the State Board of Education, district authorizers, and member schools to properly implement these funds and advocate to secure and grow these dollars in future years.

Additionally, achieving our facilities funding priority is just one of the many wins the charter school community secured this legislative session. With the help of charter parents, community members, board members, and school leaders, the INCS Government Affairs team accomplished the following:

  • Defeated four anti-charter bills that specifically threatened to remove autonomy, reduce funding, and eliminate the charter school model in our state.
  • Ensured an additional $350 million appropriation to the evidence-based formula (EBF) to fulfill Illinois’ promise to address longstanding inequities in K–12 funding.
  • Increased funding for the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship to $4.2 million to better attract, support, and target resources to build a more diverse pipeline of teacher candidates.

(See INCS’ Full 2022 Legislative Session Recap here)

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ABOUT THE ILLINOIS NETWORK OF CHARTER SCHOOLS – The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) advocates for the improvement of public education by leveraging the charter school model as a catalyst to transform lives and communities. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to create systemic change and secure high-quality schools for underserved communities. Learn more at incschools.org.