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posted: 1/22/2014 5:29 PM

State education board asks for more money

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By Zachary White
zwhite@dailyherald.com

The Illinois State Board of Education plans to ask lawmakers today for $1 billion more to pay for schools around the state.

But as Illinois continues to sit on billions of dollars in unpaid bills, anyone looking for more money is likely to face some skepticism from lawmakers.

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Chairman Gery Chico said requesting another billion dollars is fair. He said state law requires $6,119 be spent on every student, which the billion dollars would make a reality.

"We should not be doing cartwheels over that," Chico said.

The state hasn't met that requirement since 2010.

Illinois Superintendent of Education Chris Koch said the lions share of education funding has been left to local communities, which leads to wide disparities.

The Daily Herald reported this week that 92 suburban school districts collect an average of $12,432 in property taxes per student, but the amount varies from $2,816 per student to $30,381 per student.

Koch said adequate funding is a promise of the state, and a $1 billion increase is necessary.

"It's a very hefty lift, and it has to be a priority in the state, and we recognize both," Koch said. "The Illinois constitution guarantees adequate funding for quality, high quality, public education."

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