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Illinois Schools: State-Aid Boost In Budget Plan

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Gov. James R. Thompson of Illinois has proposed raising state school aid by 7.6 percent during the coming fiscal year, the largest increase he has sought for education following years of tight state budgets.

Mr. Thompson, who is scheduled to release his full budget plan on March 1, previewed his education-spending blueprint for fiscal 1990 at a press conference this month.

Revenues for the Governor's proposed $214-million increase in aid to elementary and secondary schools would come from expected increases in state tax receipts, as well as a proposed tax on tobacco products.

Although the Governor's proposed increase for education is substantially greater than his previous spending requests, it represents only half the amount of new funding sought by the state board of education.

State 'Watch List'

The state board announced this month that more than 20 percent of Illinois school districts have been placed on a "watch list" due to their perilous financial situations.

Forty-eight districts were removed from the list because their financial conditions have improved or they have been annexed or consolidated. However, 91 other districts were added to the list, for a net increase of 43 districts.

"The steady decline in state support in the last 10 years has been among the most prominent reasons for the financial problems faced by these schools," said Ted Sanders, state superintendent of instruction. "Local taxes in many of these districts have been stretched to the limit."

Eight districts remain under heightened financial scrutiny and have been required to submit plans for resolving recurring budget difficulties. (See Education Week, Feb. 8, 1989.)

The financial-recovery plan proposed by the East St. Louis district, the state's fourth largest, has prompted several lawsuits. The local board's proposed budget reductions include school closings and the withholding of pay from employees covered under union contracts.


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