Breen Files Legislation to Cap Increases in Administrative Spending by Illinois School Districts

Today, in an attempt to save taxpayers money and improve the efficiency of school district operations across the state, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) filed legislation that would reduce administrative expenses for Illinois’ 852 public school districts to national averages and cap annual increases thereafter to the consumer price index or 5%, whichever is less.

“According to 2017 reports by the Better Government Association (BGA) and Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), Illinois’ administrative spending per student is roughly 2 ½ times the national average, which means we’re paying roughly $400 million per year more than we should be,” said Breen. “It’s time Illinois gets serious about controlling administrative costs, both to protect our taxpayers and to keep school money in the classroom educating kids. It’s been 20 years since we looked seriously at limiting administrative costs in Illinois, and my bill will amend that current statute to bring us in line with the rest of the country.”

HB 4789 simplifies the School Code’s Limitation of Administrative Costs sections for both downstate school districts and the Chicago Public Schools by ensuring that all administrative costs, except pensions, are included in annual calculations under that section, beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. Currently, that section only includes six limited line items, out of approximately twenty total line items, that cover administrative costs. The Limitation of Administrative Costs section was last substantively amended by the General Assembly in 1997, by Public Act 90-653.

Breen believes his proposed cap will force school districts to get serious about focusing more tax dollars into the classroom for student learning and away from bloated administrations. “Whether school districts use shared service agreements, intergovernmental agreements, or the consolidation tools available to them, there are a variety of ways to get administrative costs back to the national average,” Breen said.

“The problem up until now has been that we were not able to compare national data on administrative spending to our state level administrative spending costs—we weren’t comparing ‘apples to apples,’” explained Breen. “Since reading the BGA and MPC reports last year, I’ve consulted with numerous experts to figure out why that is. After a lot of hard work, this bill finally identifies and closes the gap between the ways that our state and federal governments measure administrative spending. The benefit will hopefully be returning millions of dollars back into classrooms, and taxpayers’ pockets.”

HB 4789 is awaiting assignment to a substantive committee.

The BGA report can be found here: http://www.bettergov.org/news/andy-shaw-illinois-school-district-administration-a-bureaucratic-boondoggle

The MPC report can be found here: https://www.metroplanning.org/news/7412/More-efficiency-could-help-solve-school-funding-woes-in-Illinois

The U.S. Census Bureau’s reports on Public Education Finances can be found here: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/school-finances/library/publications.html

The State Board of Education page on the Limitation of Administrative Cost section of the School Code can be found here: https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Limitation-of-Administrative-Costs.aspx

The Illinois Administrative Code listing of all Administrative cost line items (2300 & 2400) can be found here: ftp://www.ilga.gov/jcar/admincode/023/02300100ZZ9998DR.html

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