FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 7, 2003
Budget proposal seeks substantial increase
for state's financially strapped schools
The State Board of Education today approved a budget proposal
for FY 2004 and a 4-year general framework for education spending
that would provide school districts with the resources needed
to increase student achievement. The proposal -- which asks
to increase education spending by $518.1 million over last
year -- gives priority support to close three significant
"gaps" the State board finds the state’s schools
facing: funding; achievement; and highly qualified educators.
“Addressing the problems confronting schools will take
a major infusion of money,” said State Superintendent
of Education Robert E. Schiller. “We know the state
cannot afford to achieve that level of funding in one year,
so we are laying out a four-year funding plan that will move
the state toward adequate support of public education."
Schiller acknowledged that the $518.1million increase might
be difficult to achieve if state revenues do not improve.
“The new Governor and the General Assembly will have
the latest revenue estimates when they consider this request
in the context of the overall demands on state resources,”
Schiller said. “However, we feel strongly the State
Board of Education must advocate for the needs of school districts
and then work with the Governor and General Assembly to meet
those needs to the greatest extent possible.
“We look forward to beginning that process for FY04
and to looking farther down the road to assure better state
support for our financially troubled schools,” he said.
“Most of our districts are faced with staggering financial
problems and we must provide greater state support or they
will continue to run deficits and be forced to cut vital programs
necessary to help students achieve state standards as required
by federal law” said Board Chairman Ronald J. Gidwitz.
Coincidentally, today in Washington, D.C., the state’s
record of low support for schools was highlighted by the national
"Quality Counts" report, which gave Illinois an
"F" in "equitable support for schools."
“We are grateful that the General Assembly and the
Governor have been able to fund schools during recent periods
of economic expansion and for giving the State Board authority
to establish emergency rescue plans for individual districts
with the most immediate problems. But Illinois cannot continue
to rescue one district at a time. We must commit ourselves
to making a substantial investment to support all schools—thereby
avoiding these individual catastrophes,” Gidwitz said.
The State Board recommended the following increases in funding
to address each of the three gaps facing Illinois schools:
The funding gap: Given the number of districts in
deficit and struggling to make ends meet, the primary emphasis
is on the funding gap, including primarily General State Aid
($252.5 M in FY04) and Mandated Categorical programs ($210.9
M). The goal is to fund the Education Funding Advisory Board
recommendations by the 4th year (FY07), including poverty
(change measure and increase) and hold harmless (eliminate).
The FY04 recommendation is to fully fund the Mandated Categoricals
(funded at about 92 per cent in FY03) and then to grow funding
by 8 per cent average growth rate over the last three years)
for the next three years.
The achievement gap:
Early Childhood Education: an increase of $27.7
million for FY04 to eliminate the waiting list of 8,000
children and an additional $90 million for Early Childhood
programs over the next four years.
Technology – increases of $5 million for each
of the next four years;
System of Support: Alternative Programs would need
$5 million more in FY04, then $10 million the next two years
and $15 million in FY07. Summer Bridges is proposed to increase
$10 million each of the next four years as the main initiative
to bring the all schools on the Academic Watch List up to
Bilingual Education program support would be moved
up to the FY02 level (an increase of $2.2 million) in FY04
then phased in to full funding over the next three years.
The gap in the recruitment and retention of quality educators:
Three program areas are targeted to “close” the
educator gap, including mentoring and induction ($2.5 M),
recruitment and retention ($2.5 M new), and National Board
of Professional Teaching Standards ($1.8 M). These programs
have also been identified by the current and incoming Governors
as necessary initiatives to meet the federal NCLB requirements
for highly qualified teachers. The out-year recommendations
(FY05 to FY07) increase each of these in gradually increasing
These numbers represent only the direct program recommendations
of the State Board and do not include the increase of approximately
$110 million necessary for the state’s contribution
to the Teachers Retirement System.
Budget materials, including line-item charts are available
at the following website: http://www.isbe.net/htmls/budgetinfo.htm.