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State School Superintendent lays out challenges

Wed, 31 Oct 2012 16:11:36 CDT
By: Charlie Schlenker

It will not be easy to continue to improve student learning in Illinois. State School Superintendent Chris Koch says a 12 year trend toward poorer families continues.

"Low income students have increased from 36.7% of the enrollment in 2000 to 49%, up .9 points just since last year."

Koch says the state board is particularly worried about districts serving larger percentages of students at risk. The State Board, he says, reworked its funding formula last year for early childhood education based on changing poverty numbers and he expects those problems to continue to grow.

"We are having kids with greater needs and we are having problems meeting those needs because their budgets are being reduced."

Koch says he expects multiple years of funding shortfalls in the future, though the state board is trying to make sure school funding follows children in poverty.

"We are concerned about that. We know that's directly related to achievement and something that we are watching very carefully, and of course that's tied directly to the economy."

Koch says there will be several more years of funding shortfalls for schools. He says this year, the state had to prorate the amount of aid it is giving districts.

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