News

For Immediate Release
January 24, 2013

State Board recommends $874 million increase in education funding, calls for fully funding state aid commitment


$20 million for proposed program to improve school security

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education today approved a Fiscal Year 2014 budget recommendation that includes more than $874 million, or a 13.4 percent increase, in state funding over the current year in an effort to better support schools and classroom instruction and reverse a trend of cuts that is impacting student learning and the financial health of districts across the state. The Board’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget recommendation would fully fund General State Aid at the 2010 Foundation Level set by the legislature.

“We are basing our recommendation on what is required to fund education as required in state law,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “Current law requires that we allocate funding to schools based on a formula set in statute that requires a $6,119 per pupil `Foundation Level,’ but the shortage of funds has meant we haven’t met that obligation to our schools and more than two million students in three years.”

The Board is also calling for $20 million as districts look to strengthen their existing plans and security measures in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Connecticut. The matching grant program would provide approximately $5,000 per school in a matching grant program for FY14 to help school districts improve school building security. 

But, the majority of the Board’s increase would go directly to districts through the General State Aid (GSA) formula, which supports general local school district operations. Central to the GSA calculation is the `Foundation Level,’ which is intended to represent the minimum level to adequately fund the education of a single pupil in the Illinois K-12 public school system. That Foundation Level has been set in statue at $6,119 per pupil since 2010.

In the last two years, however, funds appropriated for GSA have fallen short and districts have not received full reimbursement. In the current fiscal year, FY13, appropriated funds fell $518 million short of the amount necessary to fully pay the GSA claim, resulting in payments at just 89 percent of the amount owed to districts by statutory formula.

“Districts are in dire, dire straits. Right now, 67 percent are in deficit spending,” State Board Finance Committee Chairman Jim Baumann said before the board’s vote to approve the recommended funding levels. “Districts have been forced to let go more than 6,400 teachers and aides across the state in the past several years. They’ve increased class sizes, cut music, art, sports and many support services that provide for the robust educational experience that every child deserves.”

Thursday’s Board recommendation urges the General Assembly to approve an increase of $745 million for GSA, providing a total of about $5 billion to fully fund claims at the $6,119 per pupil Foundation Level.

The Board noted that their recommendation still falls far short of the recent recommendation from the Education Funding Advisory Board, a panel of volunteer experts commissioned by the General Assembly to recommend adequate education funding levels.

The group, using a national funding model, reports that adequate funding would mean an increase of $2,553 per pupil, raising the Foundation Level from $6,119 to $8,672 per-pupil, or an additional $4 billion in total GSA funding above the amount included in Thursday’s Board budget recommendation.

“Under the current fiscal crisis, it’s not realistic to expect the General Assembly to approve the new EFAB recommendation, but it’s important to note that any other GSA appropriation stands in conflict with the minimum recommendation of outside experts as commissioned by the General Assembly itself,” said State Superintendent Christopher A. Koch. “In comparison to what this expert panel says is necessary, we would ask that legislators honor and fully fund the Foundation Level that they adopted in statute so districts can have predictability and receive full payments on their claim amounts.”

Districts have received less funding from local tax revenue due to the recession, decline in assessed home values and assessed value limits imposed by the legislature. Additionally, since Fiscal Year 2009, the state’s General Fund allocation for K-12 education has been cut by $861 million or nearly 12 percent. Seventeen line items have been reduced and 34 line items have been totally eliminated during the past four years. Meanwhile, districts have been asked to implement new state reforms, such as the more rigorous Common Core standards and new principal and teacher evaluations while also seeing an increase in the population of low-income students; now at 49 percent or nearly half – more than 1 million - of all students.

Some of proposed FY 2014 increases or expenses include:

“We are very aware of the budget problems facing our state, but we also know that severely cutting education funding diminishes the economic future of the state in years to come,” said Chairman Chico. “We are changing education through more rigorous standards and exams at the same time we’re increasing accountability through new evaluation systems and performance criteria. We’ve been asking schools to do much more than we ever have and the state has cut them by nearly a billion dollars. We need to invest in our children for our state’s future.”

As part of the budget making process, the Board conducted a series of five public budget hearings around the state last fall where parents, citizens, local and state elected officials and others involved in education were invited to voice their priorities. More than 150 individuals provided oral or written testimony to restore or increase GSA, early childhood funding, agriculture education and other items and programs.

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 align to ISBE’s strategic plan goals:

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 FY2014 state budget. The Board’s budget proposal is posted on www.isbe.net/budget.

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