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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2002

Governor Ryan Previews Education Goals in Budget Message
Creates “Illinois Agenda for Excellence in Education”

DECATUR -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that he will propose a dramatic change in school funding that will increase the state’s foundation level to almost $5,000 per student – a record level - and keep his pledge of devoting 51 percent of new state revenues to education and workforce training.

The Governor’s remarks came during a preview of his education agenda and budget message George Washington Elementary School in Decatur.

By executive order Governor Ryan also announced a ten-point plan, “the Illinois Agenda for Excellence in Education,” to ensure Illinois is meeting the Bush Administration’s priorities in the “No Child Left Behind” education reform act, better support teacher recruitment and retention efforts and increase accountability for teachers and schools.

Governor Ryan’s “Illinois Agenda for Excellence in Education” builds on the previous accomplishments in education and workforce training. It focuses on developing “Illinois Preschool,” orders the development of a new plan for annual testing and student accountability programs, creates a strategy to set accountability standards to close learning gaps for disadvantaged students, and recommits Illinois to better career development for educators.

”It’s no secret that the state budget for next year is going to present us with many, many tough challenges because of the economic downturn this nation experienced after the tragedy of September 11th, said Governor Ryan. “Despite the recession our country is facing, these problems will not stop me from making our children the state’s top priority.”

Governor Ryan proposes to increase the foundation level funding for Fiscal Year 2003 by more than $400 bringing the total to almost $5,000. Funding for this increase could be available by eliminating 22 current grant programs in the State Board of Education and giving that money directly to the school districts. Since 1999, the foundation level has increased by $335 dollars per student. The general state aid will be increased to almost $3.7 billion, representing an increase of $500 million in FY 2003.

“This gives Decatur and all other school district the flexibility to determine how bureaucrats can best meet the needs of their students,” said Governor Ryan.

Universal access to early childhood education or “Illinois Preschool” will also receive $6 million in funding under the Governor’s FY 03 proposal. A new “Illinois Preschool Council” will develop the implementation framework for universal access by January and will study how every community in the state can offer high-quality preschool in settings like child care centers, family child care homes, schools, Head Start programs and community centers.

A new $5,000 Illinois Teacher Education Assistance Campaign (I-TEACH) will be created out of existing grant programs at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. I-TEACH will provide scholarships for students studying to become teachers in subject areas where there is a shortage of teachers, like math or science.

“With the Illinois Agenda for Excellence in Education and my budget recommendations for the coming year, this state will greatly strengthen our commitment to education,” said Governor Ryan. “I believe passionately that we must work together on this agenda, and that we must remain true to our commitment to education.”



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