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ISBE: Cuts to Classrooms Must Stop
The state's superintendent of education says cuts to classrooms must stop.
His comments come after Gov. Pat Quinn proposed a $400 million cut to education for next year.
The superintendent points to larger class sizes, 6,000 fewer teachers and the elimination of extracurricular activities in the last few years.
He said the state is failing its responsibility to provide a basic, adequate education to every child.
Lawmakers are bailing out two school districts this year that didn't have enough money to make payroll.
In testimony to lawmakers, Dr. Christopher Koch said the proposed $400 million cut to education next year could have a substantial impact statewide.
"It will impact instruction now without a doubt," Koch said. "We're hearing that from a number of our educational leaders across the state. This is a big concern for them. They've been shouldering reductions now for a number of years, and we're at the point now where instruction is being compromised."
That's why he's asking lawmakers to increase the state's education budget by $874 million.
That would allow the state to fully fund its per-student level, required by law. And it'd be the first time in three years.
The state is also about six months behind in paying districts.
The superintendent said there are other challenges, too. Schools are getting less money from local property tax revenue, due to the economy and lower home values.
Districts could also take a hit to programs for low-income students under federal sequestration.
The state board of education is asking for an additional $20 million to strengthen security at schools after the tragedy in Connecticut.
Lawmakers are required to pass a budget by the end of May.