Delayed Illinois Budget Boosts School Funding
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2006 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
After a legislative session marked by standoffs over spending and other issues, Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich have agreed on a state budget for fiscal 2008 that will provide increased funding for schools.
The budget, signed by the governor Jan. 11, will increase K-12 spending by $554 million, or nearly 9 percent, to a little over $7 billion, for a fiscal year that is already halfway complete. Per-pupil spending will rise by $400, to $5,734. School districts have been receiving money at fiscal 2007 levels, said Deanna Sullivan, the director of government relations for the Illinois Association of School Boards, in Lombard, Ill.
Lawmakers initially approved the budget in August, but did not approve a companion bill necessary until months later; the governor, who has had strained relations with legislators from both parties over a number of issues, did not give his final approval until last month.
Lawmakers also approved a measure that allows and sets criteria for districts seeking to establish performance pay for teachers. Those policies are still subject to the approval of unions negotiating contracts and their local school boards, as well as the state board of education, according to the law.
In addition, the legislature overrode a veto by the governor and approved a law requiring districts to allow students a daily moment of silence. A Chicago-area parent has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the measure, the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act, is an unconstitutional infringement of the separation of church and state.
Vol. 27, Issue 23, Page 22