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State School Chief: $1B In Education Cuts Would Be ‘Devastating’

John Cody. John Cody
John Cody is a veteran reporter for Newsradio 780.
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The head of the Illinois State Board of Education said a potential $1 billion cut in state funding for schools could be “devastating” at a time he’s seeking more money for education.

WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports ISBE Superintendent Christopher Koch had sought a $1 billion increase in his department’s budget for next year.

Instead, lawmakers have recommended a $1 billion decrease as part of a preliminary budget blueprint, in part due to dropping revenue from an income tax hike that will expire halfway through the next fiscal year.

“That would be certainly devastating,” Koch said of the decrease. “We have currently 22 percent of our school districts that have a hundred days’ cash or less on hand. We could have districts simply not make it through the school year.”

Kock said he believes he’ll have a lot of support when he testifies at a House appropriations committee hearing in Chicago on Friday.

“Our school districts are worsening in their financial condition, so that’s why we made the ask of the $1 billion,” he said. “We’d asked for $1 billion more than where we are currently, because we were trying to reach what’s in statute currently for the foundation level for students in Illinois — $6,119 (per student).”

Koch said $1 billion in cuts would be the equivalent of salaries for 17,000 teachers.

The potential cuts come as state officials debate whether to change the school funding formula, which hasn’t been updated since the mid-1990s.

That proposal would put almost all state education funding into one pot and require districts to demonstrate need.

The current method factors in poverty for some types of state aid, but not others. It also treats Chicago school funding differently.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)