State Board of Education, or ISBE, will have its first
hearing at its Springfield office, beginning at 4 p.m. today
"Public feedback in the budget-making process is
extremely critical in these tough economic times, because it
provides insight into local priorities and puts a face to the more
than 2 million students served through state funds in Illinois
public schools," said James Baumann, Finance and Audit Committee
chairman for the board, in a written statement.
School funding in Illinois is generally set up so local tax money
makes up 55 percent of a school's budget, state funding accounts for
35 percent, and federal funds make up the remaining 15 percent.
Part of the discussion Wednesday will involve who pays what.
Gov. Pat Quinn's Education Funding Advisory Board, or EFAB, is
recommending that the state raise its level of funding by $4 billion
next fiscal year.
EFAB said its suggestion could be accomplished by raising the
foundation level per student from $6,119 to $8,360 and offering more
money to schools in areas with high poverty rates.
How much each school district receives annually from the state
depends on how much local property is worth. Ninety-three percent of
school districts qualify for the foundation level of general state
aid, which was $6,119 this school year. The rest qualify for
significantly less money, while extremely poor districts are
eligible for more than the foundation level.
Any increase in general state aid next year would be the first
such increase since the 2008 school year.
State Rep. Roger Eddy, R-Hutsonville, said the $4 billion is
needed to give children the best education, but it's unlikely to
"The problem is the revenue and finding the dollars to support
that foundation level in this economy and with all the other
competing factors," said Eddy, who is also superintendent at
Hutsonville Community School District.
It's not a matter of withholding extra money for education.
Instead, legislators are putting paying outstanding bills and other
obligations without borrowing ahead of increasing education funding,
"For years, we had foundation-level increases and we shorted
pension payments; that's kind of how we did that during the (former
Gov. Rod) Blagojevich years," he said.
This spring marked the first time in two years that the state
made its contribution to Illinois' five public pension funds without
borrowing. The Legislature and Quinn increased income taxes earlier
this year, which will likely result in an extra $6.5 billion
annually, but that money is tied up in eliminating the state's
Plus, the state has almost $4 billion in overdue bills to
schools, social service providers and other business partners that
are set to receive any extra money the state brings in.
Larger pension payments, more money tied up in Medicaid and other
factors have translated into an effective freeze of general state
aid to schools. Schools have had to cut programs and lay off staff
because of the cost of normal inflation outpacing money from the
state and local tax bases.
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Vicki Hardy, superintendent of Carthage Elementary School
District in western Illinois, laid off three teachers, or about 10
percent of her staff of 30, since general state aid was frozen.
Local school districts could raise their property taxes to
generate more money, but for places like Carthage, that's a
nonstarter among community members.
"We're a farming community, a low-income community. I don't think
you're going to be able to squeeze any more out of" the residents,
Hardy's district receives 1.47 percent of the value of a property
in the district. Under that formula, the owner of a house worth
$100,000 would pay $1,470 annually to the school district of about
"It's just getting tougher on the teachers and tougher on the
administration to keep things going, to keep the doors open," Hardy
Illinois State Board of Education public budget hearings:
Oct. 19, 4-6 p.m.
-- ISBE office, 100 N. First St., Springfield
Oct. 24, 3-5 p.m.
-- Jon Davis Wrestling Center, 6168 Center Grove Road,
Oct. 27, 3-5 p.m.
-- Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., Champaign
Nov. 1, 3-5 p.m.
-- Wheeling School District 21, 999 W. Dundee Road, Wheeling
Nov. 29, 3-6 p.m. -- James R. Thompson
Center, 100 W. Randolph St., Chicago
Statehouse News; By ANDREW THOMASON]