The state school people are getting some pushback from state lawmakers about their K-12 budget request – which is an extra billion dollars on top of this year, to nearly $10.8 billion, about one-third of the state’s general revenue fund. With the request about sixteen percent up from the current fiscal year’s, “are we going to see a sixteen percent increase in test scores and outcomes? Graduation rates and everything?” asked State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).
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“I don’t know that you can measure it dollar for dollar,” replied Illinois State Board of Education Gery Chico, adding the board has recently taken over a couple of struggling districts, East St. Louis and North Chicago. State Rep. Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley) wondered whether Gov. Pat Quinn were truly aware of the scale of the request. Chico responded, “I don’t think we can afford to stop making the challenges, at least,” saying today’s middle schoolers will be job candidates before we know it, and Chico would rather they be able to find jobs in Illinois. Lawmakers have begun crunching numbers, even though the governor won’t present his budget message until March 26.