Education officials give testimony about funding needs for Fiscal Year 2020
The Senate Appropriations II Committee heard testimony from officials on Tuesday regarding education funding for Fiscal Year 2020.
The subject-matter hearing had several panels that spoke about additional funding needs as well as the governor's proposed budget allocation for education. Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent Carmen Ayala, who was attending the hearing on her third day as the new superintendent, said she was pleased with Gov. J.B. Pritzker's proposed budget, which includes $375 million, with an extra $100 million dedicated to early-childhood education.
"The need for funding in Illinois is very great," Ayala said.
Ayala also said she was pleased that Pritzker recommended exceeding the minimum-funding level from Fiscal Year 2019 for Fiscal Year 2020's budget.
"This will allow us to keep class sizes low, improve technology and hire additional staff like teachers, counselors and instructional coaches," Ayala said. "I'm also thrilled the governor has recommended an additional $100 million for early-childhood education. This goes above and beyond the state's minimum funding level of $50 million for the federal pre-school grant."
Illinois Association of Future Farmers of America (FFA) Vice President Eliza Petry and Reporter Shaylee Clinton also spoke of the importance for agriculture study funding.
"We are the largest student-based organization," Petry said. "For students to receive correct agriculture education, schools need funding."
Petry said funding has allowed her school's program to grow.
"Without funding, this would not be possible," she said.
Clinton touched on the Three Circles Grant, which provides agriculture teachers with additional funding for hours worked.
"Our ag teachers don't work a typical 8 to 4 day," Clinton said. "At least once every other week we're leaving after 9 p.m. with our teacher due to an event. My ag advisor estimates 75 hours per week during the school year and about 20 a week during the summer. They deserve this extended contract."
Clinton said the grant allows teachers to continue to work for students and change young lives.
"We ask that you maintain level funding for this grant," Clinton said.
Matt Hutchison, the principal at Taylorville High School, said he was very proud of the agriculture teachers at his school.
"They are hard working and dedicated to this profession," Hutchison said. "The Three Circles Grant is important because that way we get to keep our teachers."