After years of budget cuts and shortfalls in state funding, local districts could get some relief if the Illinois State Board of Education's proposed budget is passed by the General Assembly.
Under the budget, school districts around the state would get the full funding required by state statute next year.
"State law requires that we use a specific formula for distributing state aid funds to districts," ISBE Chairman Gery J. Chico said. "But for the past two years, those payments have been prorated due to cuts in the state education budget. As a result, districts have had to make difficult decisions and pass on the cuts to make ends meet. The majority are now deficit spending and just treading water. We need to reverse the trend of slashing education budgets if we want to position our students and state economy for success in the future."
The board's 2014 budget recommendation calls for an increase of $875 million above the current year. Under that plan, the Rockford School District 205 would see the second biggest gain in the funding in the state, behind only the City of Chicago School District 299.
For the Fiscal Year 2013, District 205 had a net General State Aid claim of $95,337,399, but received a prorated payment of $85,015,862. If the district received full funding, it would have had $10,321,538 more.
School districts around the state are struggling due to decreases in property values and local revenue due to the recession, as well as cuts in the state's General Fund allocation for K-12 education. Since 2009, the General Fund allocation has been cut by $861 million and over a dozen line items in the state education budget have been reduced, with almost 40 line items being totally eliminated.
In response to those cuts, districts have had to cut teachers and aides as well as programs like music, sports, arts, and foreign languages. Others have eliminated or combined bus routes and cut support services like campus monitors.
Officials with the board should testify on behalf of the budget before General Assembly committees in March and April. A full copy of the board's proposal can be found at www.isbe.net/budget.
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