ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Leaders at the State Board of Education are under heavy fire after asking the state for nearly double the money.
They say an increased budget of roughly $7 billion would bring every student in the state up to at least 90% adequacy level.
But, at Tuesday’s Senate hearing, lawmakers called the move a mockery of the process after learning board leaders openly admitted the request was unrealistic.
Lawmakers say before ISBE asks for more money, it needs to answer some questions. First, and foremost, is when will students receive new money from the state’s new funding formula? Also, how can they improve adequacy under current funding levels?
ISBE says it will send vouchers to the Comptroller’s Office in April. That’s when school districts are set to receive new tier money.
But, lawmakers are raising new suspicions about funding for federal mandates, like special education and transportation.
Senator Chapin Rose (R) asked if they can pay for both. The board did not have a solid answer.
With full funding of $15 billion, it could better combat inequitable funding, bring more teachers to the state and invest in early childhood education and mentorship programs.
Another interesting point made Tuesday was about school security. Senator Scott Bennett (D) asked if the board had increased funding for schools. ISBE said no.
Lawmakers say that’s disappointing, but is something the General Assembly hopes to address.