Ed. Spending Hike Includes Tuition Aid
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The spending figures for precollegiate education do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
State lawmakers in Illinois have approved a series of education-related measures supported by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, who is up for re-election in the fall, including a new financial-aid program tailored to middle-income families and an expansion of the state’s preschool program.
The financial-aid measure will offer a $500-a-year grant to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who attend college in Illinois, where in-state tuition and fees at public universities average about $7,000 a year. The new program, funded at $34 million in fiscal 2007, is aimed at students whose family incomes are more than the eligibility threshold of the existing Monetary Award Program, or MAP, for college students from needy families.
Legislators also agreed to support the governor’s Preschool for All program, which will expand eligibility for state-subsidized preschool programs for three- and four-year-olds to middle-income families, not just low-income ones. The program is expected to cost $45 million in fiscal 2007 and $135 million over a three-year period, said Ronny Wickenhauser, the budget and financial adviser for the state board of education.
Overall state general funds for K-12 education will increase by about 7 percent, to $6.5 billion, in fiscal 2007.
Lawmakers also approved legislation, supported by Mr. Blagojevich, that will make it easier for school districts to consolidate. The new measure will make it easier for willing districts to merge, while allowing single dissenting districts to remain independent.
Vol. 25, Issue 38, Page 25