Illinois Governor Seeks $200 Million for Reforms

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Springfield, Ill--Gov. James R. Thompson of Illinois, speaking before a special joint session of the state legislature, has proposed a $200-million school-reform plan anchored by merit pay for teachers and a student-literacy program.

The Governor's proposed increases in state aid would bring total new spending for education to $330- million for fiscal 1986.

Schools Need More

Ted Sanders, the new state superintendent, praised the Governor's budget but said schools will need more than the Governor has proposed.

He has recommended to the state board of education a $372-million budget in new spending--less than half of the $904-million proposed by his predecessor, Donald G. Gill.

Mr. Sanders' budget includes $91.5 million in reform initiatives, mostly for higher teachers' salaries. But it does not include funding for the controversial "resource cost model" budgeting formula initiated by Mr. Gill.

Budget Proposals

Among Governor Thompson's budget recommendations are:

$10 million to raise beginning teachers' salaries in 300 districts to $15,000. Under the Governor's proposal, beginning teachers would also be required to pass a precertification competency test.

$59 million for merit-pay plans for teachers; the Governor said he wants local districts to develop their own career-ladder systems.

$44 million to "eradicate illiteracy" by hiring reading specialists and teacher aides, and by funding remedial summer-school programs and expanded early-childhood-education programs.

The institution of a "report card" on schools comparing such factors as scores on achievement tests; class sizes; college-attendence rates; and percentage of enrollment in college-preparatory, general, and vocational-education programs.

The establishment of a math-science academy for bright students, along with an expansion of that concept to include similar institutions for the life-sciences and agriculture instruction.

Alternative schools for students who pose severe and chronic discipline problems.--Don Sevener

Vol. 04, Issue 24

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