(The Center Square) – The Illinois State Board of Education is aiming high in its request for more taxpayer funding in the next fiscal year.
The board is proposing a $653 million increase over the current level of spending for pre-K-12 schools, bringing the overall budget request for the next school year to $11 billion. The proposal includes a $350 million increase in Evidence-Based Funding. EBF is designed to send more resources to Illinois’ most under-resourced students.
State Superintendent of Schools Tony Sanders’ proposal also seeks an additional $75 million increase for the state’s early childhood block grant.
It may be a tough ask of Illinois lawmakers as the state is facing a possible budget deficit in the neighborhood of $900 million for the coming fiscal year that begins July 1.
“I and many others were bracing ourselves for tough news, and I don’t think we’re out of the woods until we get through the governor’s budget address and see what the General Assembly does,” said Robin Steans, president of the education advocacy group Advance Illinois.
The budget proposal also addresses the state’s ongoing migrant crisis with $35 million allocated to support so-called “newcomers.” The money would be used in part to hire bilingual teachers.
Steans is hopeful the budget proposal will be approved because she said Gov. J.B. Pritzker has shown that he cares about education.
“So I don’t doubt for a second that it is a priority for him,” said Steans. “It would be great if he could find a way to deliver on what ISBE is proposing. I think it is going to be a challenge but I am keeping my fingers crossed and my hopes up.”
The education budget proposal will head to Pritzker and lawmakers for their consideration. Pritzker is scheduled to present his proposed budget to legislators on Feb. 21.