Poorest school districts have most to lose

By Alex Davis | adavis@wcia.com

Published 01/22 2014 04:23PM

Updated 01/23 2014 10:11AM

SPRINGFIELD -- State school officials are asking the legislature for a more than $1 billion increase in funding. The request comes at a time when the state's finances are slated to get worse. Illinois' temporary income tax is set to expire January 2015. WCIA-3's Alex Davis keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is asking for more money while the state is expecting to lose some $2 billion in income tax revenue next year. The chairman of the ISBE stands behind the agency's request.

"To ask for a little bit more than $1 billion in additional funding for our public schools here in Illinois."

He believes the money would put ISBE in line with the state statute.

"In following the law, the legislature said $6,119 is the foundation level and that's the level we seek to hit."

The increase would do just that. Right now, schools are funded about 89% of the foundation level.

"If we get all of that money, that $1 billion that I'm talking about, we'll be at 100% of what the statutory recommended level is."

But, the board's request comes at a time when state revenue is expected to fall. Next January, the state's temporary income tax hike ends.

"These are very real numbers. They're very real problems and we need to face them head on."

Education advocates understand the tough fiscal situation, but are determined to do what's best for students.

"The Illinois constitution guarantees adequate funding for quality, high quality education."

"We want to be aggressive, thoughtful and see as much as we can reasonably to fund the education of those students."

The board will likely pass a budget recommendation Thursday, and even though the request is $1 billion more than the current fiscal year, it's still 2% less than what schools got in 2009.

The 20% of students enrolled in the state's poorest school districts are losing $160 million in general state education funds this year while the 20% of students in school districts with the fewest number of poor students are only losing $30 million.

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