Education Officials Making a Push For More Funding For The 2022 Fiscal Year.

Saying they can’t go another year with flat education funding, officials are making a push for more funding for the 2022 fiscal year.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget proposal keeps K-12 education funding levels flat for the coming fiscal year.

During an appropriations hearing Monday of the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, Robin Steans, president of Advance Illinois, an independent policy and advocacy organization, made a plea for over $400 million for 2022.

“The research is very clear and it has been growing steadily over the last 5 to 10 years, that money really does make a difference,” Steans said.

Steans said an additional $50 million is needed for an Early Childhood Block Grant, $14.5 million is needed to strengthen the educator pipeline to address the teacher shortage, and $350 million into evidence-based funding for schools.

Vienna Schools Superintendent Joshua Stafford said the teacher shortage must be addressed.

“While this teacher shortage crisis affects everyone, it disproportionately impacts inadequately funded schools,” said Stafford. “While we’re working to address that shortage with numerous partners around the state, we need stable funds to continue the recovery and provide hope.”

A survey by the Illinois Association of Regional School Superintendents shows 77% of school superintendents said they are dealing with a teacher shortage, and 93% said they don’t have enough substitute teachers.

Illinois leads the Midwest with 852 school districts, with more than half serving fewer than 1,000 students each.

Legislation moving through the House could possibly change that. The Classrooms First Act would prioritize classrooms, students and teachers in education funding by forming a commission to study school district consolidation, and then make recommendations of local voters to decide on the mergers.

School districts receive about two-thirds of property taxes in Illinois.