Illinois schools given a failing grade in administrative costs
Illinois' 850 school districts spent more than $1 billion in 2014 on administrative costs alone, well above the amount spent by any other state, a Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) report said recently.
The report, highlighted by the Better Government Association (BGA) on its website, looked at the most recent data available and determined that Illinois spends 2.5 times more on administrative costs per student than the national average.
Andy Shaw, the author of the BGA article, said what might be worse is that the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission said the state will have to spend an additional $3.5 billion over the next 10 years just to get school districts to "adequate" funding levels.
"Incredibly, Illinois could easily meet the commission’s goal without scrounging for another penny if district administrative spending was even close to the national average because that would free up at least $400 million a year for classrooms instead of offices," Shaw wrote.
The high costs are blamed on the large number of school districts -- Illinois has the third-most in the nation -- and inefficiencies, such as having 220 school districts that cover just one school and are 67 percent more expensive than districts with multiple schools. Illinois also has numerous districts that have only elementary or high schools, which cost approximately 33 percent more to run.
According to the BGA report, the MPC recommends that districts make long-term streamlining commitments and that state officials work to combine adjacent districts with fewer schools and, where possible, to ensure that school districts include all levels of education.