State Board recommends restoration of education funding and modest increase

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$261 million increase from FY 2009 still well below the EFAB             recommendation    


Springfield, IL — The Illinois State Board of Education approved a Fiscal Year 2012 State General Funds budget recommendation that would restore education funding and provide a $261 million, or 3.5 percent increase, over the Fiscal Year 2009 General Funds budget. This recommendation, which will be sent to the Governor and General Assembly, would allow the per-pupil FY 2011 General State Aid Foundation level of $6,119 to increase to $6,416 per pupil but it falls short of the Education Funding Advisory Board’s recommended $8,360 Foundation Level. State funding for education was reduced in FY 2010 and FY 2011 by nearly $450 million.

“We must continue to invest in public education, even in these tough economic times,’’ said Jesse H. Ruiz, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. “We all know that education is the key to maintaining and growing our state’s economy with an educated work force that will fill and develop new jobs in the future. We must ensure that the more than two million students in Illinois pubic schools are ready to compete and collaborate with their peers around the country and the world.’’

As part of the budget making process, Governor Pat Quinn appointed a new Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) in 2009. After more than a year of meetings and analysis, that board recommended a $4 billion increase to education, which would provide the $8,360 per-pupil Foundation Level. The EFAB recommendation includes an increase in the per pupil amount of the Supplemental General State Aid Poverty Grant to better help students from low-income families. The last official EFAB recommendation was in 2005.

“As advocates of education, we would like to fulfill the EFAB recommendation but we also know it’s not possible in today’s economic climate,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “It’s critical, however, that districts have the necessary resources and support as we demand more of schools and students in the coming years through the adoption of new higher and more rigorous Common Core Learning Standards.’’

The Board’s recommendation would mean an increase to General State Aid and to mandated categoricals, including the restoration of transportation funding that was cut in FY 2011. Other components of the recommended budget include:

   ·    A $3.5 million (5.5 percent) increase for Bilingual Education to help districts provide the Early Childhood Bilingual Services recently mandated by the General Assembly.

·    A $2.3 million increase to improve teacher and principal preparation, which would include efforts to increase diversity. These dollars would be used to match $2 million in private funding the agency has secured from foundations for programs to improve the quality of teaching and school leadership.

·   A $900,000 increase in the amount of funding for feasibility studies as districts consider consolidation or another form of reorganziation to increase efficiency. 

In addition to the EFAB recommendation, the Board conducted a series of six public budget hearings around the state last fall where citizens, local and state politicians and candidates were invited to voice their priorities. Nearly 200 people attended those hearings and another nearly 300 sent written testimony calling on the Board to restore, maintain or expand funding for General State Aid and specific programs.

Education funding has declined by nearly $450 million in Illinois during the past two years. In both FY 2010 and FY 2011, the General Assembly provided ISBE appropriations through lump sums, which were less than the previous years’ appropriations. Governor Quinn restored some funding through discretionary funds but ultimately the ISBE General Funds budget declined by $119.6 million between FY 2009 and FY 2010 and $328.3 million between FY 2010 and FY 2011. Despite the decreases, the Foundational level has remained the same, at $6,119 per pupil, during the past two years.

The Board based its decisions regarding programs and funding on several key principles, including support for the largest number of students and greatest flexibility for districts, minimizing the introduction of new programs and mandates in order to conserve resources and the alignment to ISBE’s strategic plan goals:

·   Every student will demonstrate academic achievement and be prepared for success after high school.

·   Every student will be supported by highly prepared and effective teachers and school leaders.

·   Every school will offer a safe and healthy learning environment for all students.

The Illinois State Board of Education will provide its budget recommendation to the Governor and General Assembly for consideration as part of the overall State FY2012 state budget.

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