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State BOE Wants $1 Billion More for Education
One billions dollars. That's how much more money the Illinois State Board of Education says it needs to keep local school districts a float.
The demand could not have come at a worse time as legislators brace for the end of the state's temporary income tax increase, which expires at the end of 2014. That change will drain billions of dollars from the state and force local districts to come up with more ways to nip and tuck.
"Local districts are hurting right now," Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gary Chico said.
Including District 186, where the school board says they are looking at a nearly $5 million budget deficit.
"Education has suffered tremendous cuts over the last four, five years," Chico said.
Here's why: A state statute requires local school districts be given $6,119 per student but, with the slumping economy taking its toll on sales tax and income tax revenues, legislators have not delivered on that promise in years. This past year the government was only funding public school districts at 89% of what is required.
The State Board of Education is now asking for about $1 billion more to get the funding level for public school districts back up to par.
"We should not be doing cartwheels over that because there is another recommended amount of funding per child from the State Education Advisory Board, which is more than $8,000 per student," Chico said.
A number legislators and educators agree will be difficult to reach as the state's temporary income tax increase nears its end. That will be a $2.2 billion loss.
"It would blow a hole in it and [legislators] have to be concerned about lifting that. And again, these are revenue matters that I'm sure the general assembly is going to be considering," State Superintendent Christopher Koch said.
These are also revenue matters local superintendents are considering as they kick around options to keep education what it should be.
"Locally there are two options for increasing revenue. One is the sales tax, which would be country wide. The other is the tax rate referendum and at this point in time our conversations are still very exploratory," District 186 Interim Superintendent Dr. Robert Hill said.
If you want to join in on that conversation you will have that chance at the next District 186 school board meeting February 3rd.
The State Board of Education is set to pass it's budget recommendation Thursday but it will be months before a decision is made on that request. The House and Senate have until the end of May to crunch the numbers.