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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

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April 9, 2003

Governor Blagojevich’s Budget Gives Lift
to Financially Strapped Schools

State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller issued the following statement in response to Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Budget Message:

Despite the unprecedented economic challenges of the State, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s budget plan increases funding for elementary and secondary education and targets more state resources to financially strapped school districts. The Governor obviously recognizes the depth of the financial stress faced by local school districts and his budget places a high priority on easing their budget difficulties.

Increasing the Foundation Level in the General State Aid formula by $250 per student will direct state funding to the districts that need it most—those that are able to spend the least on each student’s education. We have districts that spend more than $15,000 per student and many that spend less than $5,000. Raising the lowest-spending districts by increasing the Foundation Level will bring more equity into our school funding system and help to assure that every child has access to an adequately funded education program.

For the last two years, a highly regarded national study—“Quality Counts”, conducted by Education Week—gave Illinois a letter grade of “F” in equity of funding for schools. Governor Blagojevich has shown that he will work for a higher grade.

The Governor’s proposed budget includes a number of additional recommendations that will help local school districts carry out their responsibilities. Among them are:

  • an increase in spending for Early Childhood programs ($29.9 million) and bilingual education ($2.2 million) programs, as recommended in ISBE’s budget proposal.

  • an increase in spending for mandated categorical programs of $88 million, which will allow the MCATS payments to be pro-rated at about 91 per cent – the same as the current year.

  • a supplemental appropriation of $21.8 million to meet the FY03 General State Aid payments.

  • consolidation from nine to four of the funds that make up local school district budgets, as recommended by EFAB and ISBE. This will provide greater flexibility at the local level.

  • making permanent the policy of advancing to June the 23rd and 24th annual state aid payment to districts. This will ensure the annual cash flow to districts.

The State Board continues to analyze the overall impact of the Governor’s proposed budget. Clearly, this budget will be carefully scrutinized in the coming weeks, and we look forward to being an active participant in that process.

Download an Adobe Acrobat PDF file comparing the Governor's proposal, the State Board of Education's proposed budget, and previous years’ funding levels.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777