The lobbyist who chairs the lieutenant governor's Survey Evaluation Committee says many things about public education are popular; most of them, except for the amount of money dedicated to it. Susan Hilton, who is director of governmental relations for the Illinois Association of School Boards, is in charge of the committee whose surveys are out Thursday. They include a review of services by the Illinois State Board of Education and regional offices of education, as well as an Illinois State University-conducted superintendents' survey.
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About two-thirds of the superintendents responding say the funding is inadequate or otherwise must improve, and a majority of the superintendents would support increases or other changes in taxes. “I think part of the concern with the State Board of Education, from a school district perspective, is that they are short-staffed,” says Hilton. “Also, funding is an issue. But the SBE is not the problem with funding; it's the state legislature.”
This all comes as lawmakers face pressure to let the increased income tax, enacted in 2011, fall from 5 percent to 3.75 percent in 2015. “It’s 50-50 to me whether or not they are going to keep it,” Hilton says. “There’s such a strong push from the public to get rid of it, but there’s such a huge budget shortfall, which would put pressure (on lawmakers) to keep it. So I really, I’m kind of 50-50 on that.”