Illinois State Board of Education discusses increased spending with House committee

(The Center Square) ā€“ Members of the Illinois State Board of Education are discussing their 2024 budget proposal, which includes an increase in funding.

ISBE members met with the Illinois House Appropriations Committee this week and requested an extra $350 million in state funding go towards the Evidence-Based Funding formula to help them meet their goal of reaching 90% adequacy for schools over the next ten and a half years.

Board Chair Steven Isoye said the additional funding is crucial to schools.

“It has given our schools stability and predictability, and it’s the main lever that advances equity for all schools across the state,” Isoye said.

A report by Wirepoints shows that 53 schools do not have any students who can do math at their grade level and that at 30 schools, no student can read at grade level.

The report uses data from the Illinois State Board of Education and found that 18% of the state’s 3,547 schools have only 1 out of 10 kids who are capable of reading at grade level.

State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, told the board that the state in-classroom performance needs to meet the amount of funding they have been given.

“It seems like oftentimes we define success on how much money we spend and we are spending a record amount of money on education in Illinois,” Wilhour said. “Across the state, $16,000 per student, which is much, much higher than a lot of states, and our numbers are not much better at all.”

Of the more than $5 billion in COVID-19 relief tax funds, ISBE received $480.2 million during the pandemic.

State Rep. William Davis, D-Homewood, urged the board to spend those funds before asking for more.

“Those were bonus dollars, and I’ll use that phrase if you will,” Davis said. “We would like the districts to go ahead and spend those dollars. If they are not, they are welcome to give them back.”

More than 850 Illinois school districts directly received $4.5 billion in federal COVID-19 relief tax dollars.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year includes an additional $506 million for K-12 education.

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