Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich has jumped into the fray regarding school funding, calling on the General Assembly to return to work Aug. 12 and 13 to work on increasing Illinois education funding. The governor’s move gives a lift to efforts spearheaded by state

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich has jumped into the fray regarding school funding, calling on the General Assembly to return to work Aug. 12 and 13 to work on increasing Illinois education funding.

The governor’s move gives a lift to efforts spearheaded by state Sen. Rev. James Meeks, D-15th, to have Chicago Public Schools students boycott the first day of school, Sept. 2, and try to enroll in New Trier High School in Winnetka.

Meeks called for the boycott to draw attention to the funding disparity that has CPS students funded at $10,000 per student while New Trier schools get $17,000 per student. The disparity is based on the fact that school districts are funded through property taxes, and Chicago’s property tax base cannot match the suburban taxes.

Meeks wants the legislature to come up with a better funding plan for the city schools or he wants the legislature to allow students to attend the suburban school because they are receiving a substandard education.

The Meeks plan has drawn support from a number of local ministers who say the plight of the city school students requires drastic measures.

CPS officials agree with Meeks on his call for a funding fix, but they disagree on his tactics.

School Board President Rufus Williams has said that while the district welcomes the efforts of the ministers, he doesn’t think missing the first day of school is the right way to go. He wants to see the students in school Sept. 2; in their Chicago school.

His stance was backed by Mayor Richard M. Daley, who reiterated that students should not miss school for any reason.

Williams also noted that New Trier schools start Aug. 21, while Meeks would have students try to enroll on Sept. 2 Blagojevich is also seeking the special session to try to rally for passage of his $25 billion Illinois Works capital spending plan.

Blagojevich said that he is committed to increasing state funding for education and boasted that since he has been in office, he has increased per pupil spending in the state by more than 30 percent. He said he was able to increase funding for education in his proposed budget by $360 million.

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