For Immediate Release
October 31, 2007

State Superintendent, local education leaders urge the Illinois House to pass a bill that ensures state schools get funds they need for FY08 school year

Failure to pass Budget Implementation Bill means 700 school districts will receive less state aid starting in November; Area schools will see a loss of more than $1.2 million per month without Budget Implementation Bill

PEORIA – Illinois State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch, joined Peoria County Regional Superintendent of Education Dr. Gerald M. Brookhart, as well as other local education officials to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that will prevent more than 700 school districts from losing critical funding for the FY08 school year. Starting in November, Illinois School Districts will lose more than $550 million in General State Aid (GSA) payments if the House fails to pass a Budget Implementation (BIMP) bill, including $1.2 million per month for Peoria area schools alone. Without this bill, the Illinois State Board of Education will have to make GSA payments to schools at the FY07 funding levels, which does not take into account additional student enrollment, changes in local property taxes and other local funding increases.

“We need to provide schools the GSA payments they are due at 2008 funding levels. This is money schools are counting on,” said Dr. Koch. “Thousands of schools around the state are counting on this money to pay teachers, utilities, buy text books and fund after school programs. I’m urging the House to pass a new Foundation Level and make sure Illinois schools have the money they need to educate our children.”

Funding in the Fiscal Year 2008 budget includes a $400 increase in the state’s Foundation Level to $5,734 per student. If lawmakers approve that increase to the Foundation Level it will result in 816 districts/lab schools/safe schools realizing an increase in their GSA payments from what they are currently receiving. However, if the General Assembly does not enact the new Foundation Level, 726 districts/lab schools/safe schools, starting in November, will receive less GSA than they are currently receiving. These losses will be due to changes in Average Daily Attendance, property taxes and other local resources.

In the Peoria and Tazewell counties alone, that will mean a decrease of state funding to schools of more than $1.2 million a month from what they are currently receiving. Monthly reductions to local schools will include:

“These are dollars schools need that are budgeted and they should be receiving,” Dr. Koch said. “In some areas this is beginning to put schools in a real bind, they may have to draw down reserve funds and will lose interest they would otherwise be earning or could possibly have to borrow. We need our lawmakers to pass a Budget Implementation Bill so that we can pay schools the money they are owed.”

In addition, the Fiscal Year 2008 budget includes an increase in funding to school districts for special education reimbursement rates of $1,000 for certified personnel and $700 for non-certified personnel. However, these increases to schools can not be paid until lawmakers pass a Budget Implementation Bill.

If lawmakers do eventually pass a BIMP that increases the Foundation Level, ISBE will recalculate GSA at the new levels and districts will be paid their full FY 2008 amounts on future payments. However, reduced payments will begin with the first GSA payment in November and will continue at that level until the legislature passes a BIMP.