For Immediate Release
January 14, 2010

State Board focuses on core agency mission by reallocating funds to maintain foundation level

Board recommends level funding to maintain foundation level at $6,119

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education today recommended a Fiscal Year 2011 budget to the Governor and General Assembly that maintains level funding. The budget recommended by the Board would maintain current state funding to education, fully funding General State Aid (GSA) and Mandated Categoricals, such as special education and transportation costs, and restore funding for bilingual and early childhood education to reflect Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations.

“We know our state is in grave financial distress and this will again be a tight budget year, but we can’t afford to short change children,’’ said Jesse H. Ruiz, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. “We all know that society relies on a well-educated citizenry. Today’s education budget supports tomorrow’s Illinois work force while also reflecting our state’s dire economic realities.’’

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 FY2011. Using the methodology employed by EFAB, the GSA Foundation Level recommendation would be $7,992, an increase of $1,873 per student over the FY 2010 GSA Foundation Level. The Board chose not to recommend adopting the EFAB level in their budget recommendation because raising the GSA Foundation Level to this amount would require an increase to the state’s education budget of $3 billion.

The Board also recognizes that a cut to education is a very real possibility for 2011. In FY09 and FY10, approximately $1 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was used toward General State Aid Payments. In Fiscal Year 2011, those ARRA funds disappear. If the Board is forced to consider reducing the budget by the nearly $1 billion received through ARRA during each of the past two years, it would have to make significant reductions in General State Aid and Mandated Categoricals.

The Board decided to recommend an increase in General State Aid of $43 million to allow the foundation level funding to remain at $6,119. The additional $43 million increase would offset decreased revenue from corporate and residential property taxes. The Board also voted to fully fund Mandated Categoricals, those services that local schools are mandated to provide, such as special education, transportation, summer school and free and reduced breakfast/lunch programs.

As part of its budget making process, the Board recommended a 50 percent reduction in GSA Hold Harmless as well as work on legislation to prohibit additional districts from becoming eligible for these payments. The GSA Hold Harmless funding formula was created as a temporary solution to a change in the General State Aid funding formula in the late 1990s and was originally envisioned to sunset after only a few years.

Other highlights of the State Board budget recommendation for FY2011 include:

Two new categories 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 FY2011 state budget.