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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

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For immediate release
February 18, 2004

Governor recommends more than $400 million for Illinois schools

General Assembly will decide what programs are funded

(SPRINGFIELD) – Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich unveiled his Fiscal Year 2005 budget Wednesday which included a more than $400 million increase in elementary and secondary education funding. While the recommendation sets out some of the Governor’s priorities for increased spending, it stops short of allocating funds to specific programs.

“In light of the tough economic times that Illinois has faced over the past several years, the Governor’s recommendation acknowledges the need to keep the lights and the doors open at our more than 4,000 schools,” State Superintendent Robert Schiller said.

The Governor’s FY 2005 Budget recommendation for elementary and secondary includes a $400 million increase in funding over FY04 for programs, in addition to $65 million for Chicago Public Schools retirement. The recommendation identifies the following areas as some priorities but does not specifically allocate the amount of increase: General State Aid; Mandated Categoricals; Early Childhood; State of the State Initiatives; ADA Block Grant; and Bilingual education. Schiller credited the Governor for recognizing the needs of school districts in his priorities, which mirror those outlined by the State Board of Education last month.

Further, initial review of the recommendation includes transferring the following programs to agencies under the Governor’s purview: Regular and Special Education Orphanage programs to the Department of Children and Family Services; Early Intervention, Truant Alternative and Optional Education Program, and Regional Safe School programs to the Department of Human Services; General Equivalency Diploma to the Illinois Community College Board; and Agricultural Education to the Department of Agriculture.

Schiller added that it is unclear how the Governor’s proposed transfer of programs to other agencies affects the bottom line for ISBE operations and its ability to support school districts. The Governor’s proposal maintains the current agency headcount at 495, but includes plans to restructure the organization.

“I question how placing educational programs into more state agencies benefits school districts,” Schiller said.

Schiller said that the State Board will do an analysis of the budget recommendation and pledged to work with the General Assembly in the coming months as it identifies how the $400 million will be allocated.

“We face some tough decisions as we strive to move education forward in Illinois,” Schiller said. “We need to keep in mind that the majority of our school districts are operating in deficits. They need the state’s financial support so they can avoid cutting programs and letting go of teachers and instead remain focused on classroom instruction.”

In January the State Board proposed an increase of $609 million in additional funds over FY04, $576.6 million alone which would support adequate basic education and full funding of programs that the state requires districts provide. The proposal included a $250 per pupil increase of general state aid, which equals $396.5 million; restores the School Safety and Educational Improvement (ADA) Block Grant to its FY03 level of $66.9 million, an increase of $24 million; an additional $139.1 million to fully fund the state Mandated Categorical grants including special education and transportation; a $13.3 million increase for the Bilingual program to increase the pro-ration from 64% to approximately 75%. The proposal also included restoration of $19 million for Gifted Education; $30 million for Early Childhood; $23.7 million for Bridges Extended Learning Opportunities (formerly known as Summer Bridges); $2.6 million for Reading, $6.2 million for System of Support, $3 million for Career and Technical Education, and $4.5 million for Truant and Alternative Learning Opportunities.

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