For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

School districts make hard choices to balance demands of fiscal solvency and academic opportunity

2018 School District Financial Profiles show improving fiscal health yet inadequate resources

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today approved the 2018 School District Financial Profiles, which are based on fiscal year 2017 financial data. The annual profiles provide an informational snapshot of school districts’ financial health and promote sound financial management. Each school district’s profile shows a score from 1.00 (lowest financial strength) to 4.00 (highest financial strength) and a corresponding designation (1.00 through 2.61: Financial Watch; 2.62 through 3.07: Financial Warning; 3.08 through 3.53: Financial Review; and 3.54 through 4.00: Financial Recognition).

The 2018 profiles show overall improving fiscal health as well as inadequate resources. The second-greatest number of school districts achieved Financial Recognition in the 15-year history of the tool. However, the majority of school districts in Financial Recognition have less than 75 percent of the statutory definition of adequate resources, according to preliminary Evidence-Based Funding calculations.

“The large number of districts in Financial Recognition is a testament to the acumen of our superintendents and boards of education,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “What the profiles do not show, however, are the hard choices and sacrifices school districts have had to make in terms of academic opportunity in order to maintain fiscal solvency. Preliminary Evidence-Based Funding numbers show the vast majority of school districts do not have adequate resources. When school districts are forced to sacrifice academic opportunity, the state loses out on tremendous human capital. We must continue to invest in our students and our schools to secure a better social and economic future for Illinois.”

Half of the districts in the Watch category rely on state funding to provide 40 percent or more of their resources. They may also have to tax at a higher rate than other similar districts to obtain the same amount of local funding, due to lower local property wealth.

ISBE developed the School District Financial Profile in 2003 in partnership with experts in finance and lending, credit agencies, and school business officials. The profile examines five key indicators of financial integrity: fund balance to revenue ratio, expenditure to revenue ratio, days cash on hand, percentage of short-term borrowing ability remaining, and percentage of long-term borrowing ability remaining.

ISBE offers financial management guidance and technical assistance to all school districts and provides increased support to districts in Financial Watch. ISBE staff help districts prepare and monitor cash flows and provide recommendations on operational needs. ISBE staff assist with financial projections and weighing options for improving financial health.

View the 2018 School District Financial Profiles.