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January 8, 2004

State Board of Education approves FY05 budget

(SPRINGFIELD) Advocating on behalf of cash strapped districts statewide, the Illinois State Board of Education Thursday approved the Fiscal Year 2005 elementary and secondary education budget recommendation.

"We can move our educational system ahead or we can continue to fall behind," State Superintendent Robert Schiller said. "The State Board and I recognize Illinois' financial situation but made the conscious decision to ask the state to move education forward. The needs outlined in this budget and articulated in our 2003 Condition of Education report are real and represent the priorities and needs of the hundreds of district superintendents, principals, teachers and students who voiced their input on this budget."

The FY05 proposal includes a $609 million General Funds increase over the FY04 elementary and secondary education appropriation. The FY05 recommendation includes:

  • A $250 per pupil increase of general state aid, which equals $396.5 million.
  • Restoring 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%.
  • 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).
  • Additional increases include: $2.6 million for Reading, $6.2 million for System of Support, $3 million for Career and Technical Education, $4.5 million for Truant and Alternative Learning Opportunities, and $11.6 million for Regional Offices of Education.

The proposal includes $576.6 million alone to support adequate basic education and full funding of programs that the state requires districts provide.

In FY04 the State Board recommended and the Governor agreed to begin to phase in the Education Funding Advisory Board proposal over a four- or five-year period. The State Board therefore recommends, for the second year in a row, an FY05 increase of $250.00 to the foundation level.

"Our schools are struggling to make ends meet with the current level of resources available to them, and we recognize that," said Board Chair Janet Steiner. "Transporting the student to the classroom, staffing the classrooms, assisting the students who have special needs, integrating general education and special education students together, supporting our teachers, and communicating to parents are all very real costs."

Moody's Investor Service recently indicated that the Illinois school district sector remains challenged with widespread structural imbalances, declining liquidity and expenditure growth that is outpacing revenue growth.

The Education Trust recently found Illinois to have the highest funding gap between the highest and lowest poverty districts and on Wednesday, Illinois was the only state rated "F" for funding equity by Education Week.

The 2003 Condition of Education report documents these trends - costs rising faster than revenues, an increasing number of districts in deficits and remaining there for longer periods of time, more and more reductions to extra-curricular activities as well as basic classroom costs, and the inability of schools to provide the services necessary to have all students achieve standards.

The FY05 budget recommendation will begin to help schools address these basic finance and equity issues.

Schiller added that more than 99.99% of the $7.6 billion FY04 education appropriation goes directly to the state's 891 locally controlled school districts. After continued reduction of personnel and operations, this proposal includes no increased administrative costs at the Illinois State Board of Education, he said.

The Illinois State Board of Education is required by law to present the Governor and the General Assembly a recommended budget proposal for Illinois public elementary and secondary education system by January 14th.

bullet item Approved FY05 Budget


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