For Immediate Release
January 27, 2009

State Board recommends streamlined budget for FY 2010; Focus on core agency mission

Board recommends 2% increase to fund General State Aid and Mandates

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education today recommended a Fiscal Year 2010 budget to the Governor and General Assembly that includes an increase of approximately $173 million. The budget recommended by the Board would increase state funding to education by about 2%, with the increase going primarily to General State Aid (GSA) and fully funding Mandated Categoricals, such as special education and transportation costs. If approved by the General Assembly, the $173 million increase would be the lowest increase in education funding during the past decade, with the exception of Fiscal Year 2003 when funding for education was reduced.

“We know this is going to be a very tight budget year for all aspects of state government, but we feel that our commitment to education and our commitment to Illinois’ future depends upon providing schools with additional funding, even as districts face the same financial difficulties the state faces,” said Jesse H. Ruiz, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. “This budget balances today’s financial realities with our education priorities.”

As part of the budget making process, the State Board directed staff to recalculate the Education Funding Advisory Board’s (EFAB) GSA Foundation Level for FY 2010. Using the methodology employed by EFAB the GSA Foundation Level recommendation would be $7,388, an increase of $1,429 per student over the FY 2009 GSA Foundation Level. Raising the GSA Foundation Level to this amount would require an increase to the state’s education budget of $2.15 billion.

 “While we would like to see funding at the EFAB levels, realistically we know the state can’t afford a $2 billion increase to its education budget at this time,” said Michael A. Jacoby, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials. “We support the board’s decision to fully fund Mandated Categoricals and given the current state of the economy, we are very pleased with the increase in General State Aid.”

The Board decided to recommend an increase in General State Aid of $114 million, which translates into an increase in the GSA Foundation Level to $6,089 or $130 per student. In addition, the Board also voted to fully fund Mandated Categoricals, or services such as summer school, free and reduced breakfast/lunch programs, transportation and special education, which local schools are mandated to provide. In order to fully fund Mandated Categoricals an increase of $145 million is required.

“Local districts are feeling the effects of our nation’s economic crisis. Any increase in state funding is greatly appreciated, especially when it is directed towards fully funding mandates and General State Aid,” said Diane Rutledge, Executive Director of the Large Unit District Association. “The approach the board is taking will benefit the most students and give districts the greatest flexibility in meeting the needs of the children we serve.”   

As part of its budget making process, the board re-prioritized some of the grants and programs that it funds, collapsing more than $111 million in specialty programs and instead directing those funds into General State Aid, which allows districts more flexibility to spend those dollars, and funding for services required by state and federal law. 

Other highlights of the State Board budget recommendation for FY 2010 include:

The Board based its decisions regarding programs and funding on several key principles, including support for the largest number of students and greatest flexibility for districts, minimizing the introduction of new programs and mandates in order to conserve resources and the alignment to ISBE’s strategic plan goals:

The Illinois State Board of Education will provide its budget recommendation to the Governor and General Assembly for consideration as part of the overall State FY 2010 state budget.