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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2001

Gov. Ryan Commits 51 Percent of New Revenue to Education, Backs Reforms of State Board of Education, Annual Testing

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. George H. Ryan today in his budget address announced 51 percent of all new revenue, $460 million, will be committed to education and workforce training for a total of nearly $9 billion in the next fiscal year. The Governor also endorsed proposed reforms to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Illinois State Board of Education, as well as efforts by education and business leaders to develop annual student testing.

"With this $460 million funding increase, we will have raised state support for our schools in the last three years by $1.4 billion - the largest sustained increase in Illinois history," Governor Ryan said. "A majority of the new dollars earmarked for elementary and secondary education will go directly to local school districts to improve instruction and services in our classrooms."

In addition to the funding commitment, the Governor endorsed the Illinois State Board of Education's proposal to improve its efficiency and accountability. He also pledged to work with parents and education and business leaders to develop annual student testing to measure student progress.

"I applaud State Board Chairman Ron Gidwitz and State School Superintendent Max McGee for developing a good reform plan that builds on the agency's strengths and puts it more in touch with students, parents, teachers and school officials in each and every community," Gov. Ryan said.

The State Board proposes improving its efficiency by transferring some programs to other state agencies, using technology to reduce paperwork, streamlining operations, privatizing some functions and cutting 120 positions through transfers within state government, annual attrition or downsizing.

Operations at the State Board of Education can be streamlined in several ways. The licensing of private business and vocational schools can be moved to the Department of Professional Regulation and several child nutrition specialists can be transferred to the Department of Public Health. Oversight of the Illinois Century Network can be switched to the Board of Higher Education while some post-high school student programs can be transferred to the Community College Board.

For an unprecedented third straight year, the elementary and secondary budget also includes full funding of all categorical programs, student breakfasts and lunches.

"We will continue to support classroom technology improvements, early childhood education, intensified reading courses, summer bridge programs, alternative programs for troubled students and "Project Impact," an initiative that helps students in primarily Hispanic neighborhoods improve daily attendance and their grades," Gov. Ryan said.

Gov. Ryan also pledged to begin working with local school districts, parents' organizations and groups like the Illinois Business Education Coalition to start developing annual student testing as a means of ensuring greater accountability.

"Parents should know the progress their children are making in every school, every year," Gov. Ryan said.

A majority of the new dollars earmarked for elementary and secondary education will go directly to local school districts to improve instruction and services in the state's classrooms. Noting that, the Governor reiterated his support for the recommendations of a state advisory board, chaired by former State School Superintendent Bob Leininger, which called for a $135 per student increase in the foundation level of general state aid this year.

The Governor said he wants to create a task force to take a look at consolidating and rewriting the state's school code. Right now, the school code occupies 600 pages of Illinois statutes.

"I want the school code to concentrate more on the results we demand in our classrooms than on the processes that envelop our schools in red tape. Our goal should be to encourage - not to impede."

The Governor also pointed out his budget proposes another record amount, $3.4 billion, for state universities, community colleges and private institutions. The budget earmarks $64 million for the Illinois Century Network so that the technology can be used to link schools, colleges, universities, libraries and museums in the state.

"We will maintain and expand support for classroom instruction and important research, as well as initiatives to keep the best and the brightest of our college faculty here in Illinois," Gov. Ryan said. "We will continue to expand our scholarship programs for Illinois students."

"I hope that by the end of this calendar year, every school in this state - every school - will be connected to the Century Network so that every child has an opportunity to use the latest in technology to improve their grades."



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