Written by The Chicago Defender
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois State Board of Education wants lawmakers to increase funding for schools by $874 million next year.
The board voted Thursday to recommend the 13.4 percent increase.
Finance Committee Chairman Jim Baumann says school districts are in "dire, dire straits," with 67 percent of districts in deficit spending. He says more than 6,400 teachers have been laid off and class sizes have grown in recent years as school funding has been cut.
But an increase in funding for education is unlikely.
Illinois is in the midst of a massive budget crisis, in part because lawmakers haven't reached a deal on pension reform.
Gov. Pat Quinn's office released budget projections earlier this month. They estimated school funding would be cut by $400 million in the next fiscal year.
The ISB is also raising testing standards in the state’s public schools.
With recent board actions, ISB is making it tougher for students to be considered proficient on state tests.
The board voted Thursday to raise the cut-off score for the Illinois Standards Achievement Test in English language arts and math. The change affects elementary and middle school students.
State Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch says it's "a significant step in changing how we measure a student's progress."
Koch says the new, higher expectations will provide more accurate information about how students are doing. He says educators will be better able to identify students who need more help and ensure young people are on track to enter college or career-training programs.