Every Illinois school district set to receive dollars in capital budget
CHICAGO – Building on his effort to reform education in Illinois, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today he is dedicating $2.2 billion dollars over four years to school construction and maintenance, starting with $550 million in his capital spending plan for Fiscal Year 2005. Governor Blagojevich is not only renewing Illinois’ commitment to rebuilding and rehabilitating deteriorating schools, he is strengthening the state’s commitment despite facing ongoing fiscal challenges. At schools in Chicago, the MetroEast and Rock Island, the Governor explained how his capital spending plan will give every school district in Illinois the opportunity to capture dollars to improve buildings in need of repair.
“We need to build new schools, we need to build additions onto existing schools, we need to relieve overcrowding in classrooms, and we need to repair older schools that haven’t been fully maintained for years,” said Blagojevich. “We need to make sure we’re sending our children off to schools that are safe, comfortable, and secure.”
The Governor’s capital budget earmarks a total of $500 million for construction grants to school districts to renovate deteriorating buildings and construct new facilities. Since the school construction program began in 1997, the state provided more than $3.1 billion to 497 school districts. The program helped fund 265 new schools and 12,000 new classrooms.
Of the $500 million to be made available in FY05, about $150 million will fund projects in 24 different school districts who applied for grants in past years but did not receive funding. Chicago Public Schools will receive 20 percent of total state construction grants awarded, or $100 million. And, school districts elsewhere in the state will have the opportunity to submit applications for the remainder of the construction dollars. The Capital Development Board will prioritize projects to receive grants in FY05. The school construction program requires local school districts to receive a project entitlement and secure the required local share of construction funds before receiving state grants. The grants range from 35 to 75 percent of eligible construction costs.
An exciting new component in Governor Blagojevich’s capital spending budget plan is the reinstatement of the School Maintenance Grant Program. The Illinois State Board of Education created the School Maintenance Grant Program in 1999. But, ISBE has not funded the program since Fiscal Year 2000. Governor Blagojevich’s plan for FY05 will make $50 million available to assist school districts in maintaining their facilities. School districts will have the opportunity to apply for state grants up to $50,000 and they will be required to match the state commitment with a local commitment. For example, if a school district receives a $20,000 state maintenance grant, they would provide $20,000 local dollars to the project.
“Those smaller repair grants will help districts to take care of problems as they occur. That way, a roof leak can be fixed economically this year, instead of putting it off and putting it off until the entire roof system needs a multi-million dollar replacement. Those smaller grants should result in big savings over the years,” the Governor said.
In addition to laying out blueprint for school construction and maintenance, Governor Blagojevich is proposing ways the state can more effectively and efficiently manage school construction. The Governor has introduced legislation (Senate Bill 3001) to expand the Capital Development Board’s role in the school construction program. The bill allows CDB to fully administer the grant program and manage construction of downstate schools. CDB will eliminate the six percent fee normally charged to local school districts for project management. Instead, local school districts will only pay a one percent grant administration fee on school construction projects. It’s estimated that transferring these responsibilities from the Illinois State Board of Education to CDB will save school districts nearly $160 million dollars over four years.
Additionally, the new program will allow local school districts greater flexibility to receive funding. Schools will be authorized to spend construction grant dollars on the creation of pre-k and kindergarten classroom space and shared use facilities, as well as recreational, pre-school and before and after school activities. School districts can also continue to apply for grants to build additional classrooms or to build an entire school.
“Under the current system, the Illinois State Board of Education has awarded school construction grants using a rigid system of priorities. That means some schools with serious building problems never made it to the top of the list. As a result, all around Illinois, there are school districts that have been waiting for years for the state funds they need to get their buildings in shape,” said Blagojevich. “Our priorities in making these construction grants should reflect the priorities and needs of the people who actually use, manage, teach in and work in our schools. They know better than any bureaucrats what projects are most important, and what their students really need.”
Governor Blagojevich will present his complete capital spending plan to members of the General Assembly on Tuesday, March 23. His capital budget represents a new way of doing business and targets the state’s scarce resources to key priorities such as education, economic development and public safety.
“Even in these tough economic times, we need to keep on investing in the things that are most important to us. And with this capital budget, we’re sending a message to our children that there’s nothing more important to us than their future,” said the Governor.
School districts receiving construction grants in FY05 include:
Cook County, West Northfield School District 31, $1.8 million
Cook County, Westchester School District 92 ½, $26,237
Cook County, Matteson Elementary School District 162, $1.1 million
Cook County, Northbrook School District 27, $3.2 million
DeKalb County, Hinckley-Big Rock Community Unit School District 429, $1.9 million
DuPage County, Winnfield School District 34, $2.3 million
DuPage County, Community Consolidated School District 93, Carol Stream, $1.6 million
DuPage County Villa Park School District 45, $980,545
DuPage County Westmont Community Unit School District 201, $1.2 million
Franklin County, Benton Community Consolidated School District 47, $2.5 million
Kankakee County, Manteno Community Unit School District 5, $2.2 million
Kankakee County, Bradley School District 61, $2.1 million
Lake County, Big Hollow School District 38, $251,652
Madison County, Bethalto Community School District 8, $4.3 million
Perry County, DuQuoin Community Unit School District 300, $10 million
Rock Island County, Silvis School District 34, $11.9 million
Sangamon County, Rochester Community Unit School District 3A, $10.2 million
Shelby County, Stewardson-Strasburg Community Unit School District 5A, $2 million
St. Clair County, East St. Louis School District 189, $29 million
St. Clair County, Central School District 104, $415,622
Tazewell County, South Pekin Grade School District 137, $542,191
Wayne County, Fairfield Public School District 112, $4.3 million
Will County, Joliet School District 86, $26.8 million
Williamson County, Johnston City Community Unit School District 1, $528,822