Still, Illinois State Superintendent Chris Koch is asking for an
addition $1 billion in his new budget request.
"We have to anticipate that providing student in Illinois with an
education isn't going to cost less from year to year," Koch told
Illinois is spending $6 billion on public schools this year, Koch's
request would push that number to a little more than $7 billion for
But Koch and the state's schools won't get that extra $1 billion.
MONEY PROBLEMS: Illinois schools are going to have to do
without an extra $1 billion.
"I would love to," State Rep. Will Davis, who authors Illinois'
education budget, said. "We're just not financially in a position to
do all of those things."
Koch said if that's the case, some schools will close.
"At the end of this school year, we will have 23 percent of our
school districts with less than 100 days of cash on hand," Koch
said. "We have 63 percent of our districts are in financial
distress, requiring some sort of intervention."
But that may be what it takes to prove to parents in Illinois that
the state itself is in financial distress.
Davis said if schools were to cancel high school football or
basketball because the district has run out of money, parents
finally will pay attention.
"It certainly shouldn't have to be up to the athletic program,"
Davis said. "But, I guess in some ways you say 'If that's what it
takes,' then that's what it takes."
Joshua Dwyer, director of education reform at the Illinois Policy
Institute, said parents and taxpayers are starting to realize
something is not right.
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"It is difficult to tell where people's breaking points are — what
is going to be the catalyst that will cause them to demand change?"
Dwyer said. "I would argue that they are closer to it now than
they've ever been."
Dwyer said a look at the state's simple budget math shows what is
While Illinois spends $6 billion a year to educate kids, the state
spends $7 billion a year to pay for teachers and other public
workers to retire.
"(That) shows that the state has its priorities backwards. It is
willing to slash everything in order to fulfill its pension
obligations," He said.
Dwyer said it will take moving government workers away from
traditional pensions to 401(k)-style retirements plans to make those
numbers fall into line.
Davis said it might take a tax increase. And that, too, is certain
to grab the attention of parents and taxpayers.
Contact Benjamin Yount at
Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him
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