Legislators, Governor praised for school budget

May 31, 2001

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“Despite the increasing pressure on

state revenues, lawmakers put significant new money into K - 12 education that will improve funding equity and help close the achievement gap,” State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee said in assessing the impact of the recently completed session of the General Assembly.

"Governor George Ryan once again this year presented a strong budget that established a high priority on education. After thorough review and numerous hours of testimony and deliberation, legislators adopted most of the Governor's recommendations and kept the central focus on education, McGee said.

McGee said he was especially pleased that the Governor and General Assembly were able to continue progress toward an equitable school funding system by supporting the recommendations of the Education Funding Advisory Board.

“This budget not only funds the EFAB recommendations; it actually enhances the recommendations by providing poverty grants to districts with any number of low-income students,” McGee said. “The present formula gives poverty grants to only those districts in which low-income students exceed 20 percent of enrollment. This action of the General Assembly recognizes that every child living in poverty needs special assistance to close the achievement gap.”

EFAB recommendations approved in legislation this session include increasing the General State Aid Foundation Level by $135, from the present $4425/student to $4560/student; authorizing the calculation of General State Aid using the best average daily attendance of the last three years and continuing the hold harmless for FY2002.

McGee also noted that the FY2002 state budget fully funds the mandated categoricals, including special education, for the third consecutive year. “Prior to that time, the mandated categorical programs had never been fully funded by the state,” he said.

Funding increases for targeted programs that the State Board recommended to help close the achievement gap include: Reading Improvement ($1 million increase), Early Childhood Education ($4 million), Alternative Learning/Regional Safe Schools ($2 million), Summer Bridges Programs ($3 million), Truant Alternative Optional Education Programs ($1 million), Jobs for Illinois Graduates ($2 million increase).

"This budget continues the state effort to direct as much funding as possible to schools to assist them in helping all students meet the Illinois Learning Standards," State Board of Education Chairman Ronald J. Gidwitz said.

“When resources are scarce, leaders face great challenges in trying to meet the pressing needs of the state," Gidwitz said. “Legislators and the Governor overcame those challenges to keep education as a top priority; they stood tall for the students of Illinois.”

Line-item education budget approved by General Assembly