For Immediate Release
January 25, 2008

ISBE announces $7.5 million to assist fast-growing districts

43 districts receiving additional funds to cover needs of growing student populations

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced $7.5 million in fast growth grants that will be distributed to 43 districts around the state for the 2007-2008 school year. The grants are given to help districts meet the needs associated with quickly growing student populations.

"Fast-growing school districts can face unique challenges as they scramble to ensure they have enough staff, supplies and materials for new students," said Christopher A. Koch, State Superintendent of Education. "This money offers districts much needed assistance to deal with a rapidly expanding student population."

The fast growth grants are part of the historic $560 million increase in education funding initiated by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and approved by the General Assembly for Fiscal Year 2008 (FY 08). During FY 08 the foundation level for education increased by $400 dollars per pupil to $5,734. In addition, Governor Blagojevich used his amendatory veto power to correct a glitch in the Budget Implementation Bill that will allow for an additional $50 million to be paid to schools during FY08 for reimbursing special education expenses. The special education personnel reimbursement rates to schools were increased in FY 08 for the first-time since 1985, an increase of $1,000 dollars for certified personnel and $700 dollars for non-certified personnel.

Public school enrollment in Illinois increased steadily from 1,951,998 in 1998 to 2,077,856 in 2007. In the last decade, student enrollment increased by 125,858 or 6.4 percent. During that same time, the number of school districts in Illinois has dropped from 900 to 871.

Other Illinois enrollment facts include:

Fast growing districts often find themselves with more students than resources. They may not have enough classroom and other materials or may have to hire additional faculty and staff to meet the increasing student demand. The grants can be used to pay for salaries, books, computers, supplies and classroom materials.

School districts are eligible if during the two most recent school years their enrollment has increased by greater than 1.5 percent for districts with more than 10,000 students or greater than 7.5 percent or more for districts with an enrollment under 10,000.

The 43 school districts receiving the grants are: