New state budget boosts early childhood education funding

The two year old class at St. Paul's Early Learning Center enjoying their lunches Monday. (Rachel Droze)

The new state budget is giving a financial boost to early education learning across Illinois.

"We are trying to get them to learn the basic skills that they will need so that they can become lifetime learners,” St. Paul’s Early Learning Center teacher Michelle Wall said.

The state’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget earmarked an extra $50 million this year for early childhood learning.

"What most of the funding will go to is teacher salaries because in early childhood one teacher can only teach a small group of children, so it's labor intensive work and that's where the money has to go," adjunct faculty at Millikin University Claudia Quigg said.

Early childhood has gotten a significant boost over the last decade.

In 2009, $379 million was allocated to the early childhood education.

In 2014, $300 million was allocated to the early childhood education.

In 2019, $493 million was allocated to early childhood education.

"There's so much research out there that shows that what we do in the first five years of life for a human being impacts the rest of their life significantly," said Christie Magoulias, Millikin University’s school of education director.

The Illinois State Board of Education said the extra funding will let about 5,000 more kids receive services in the upcoming fiscal year.

That will bring the total enrollment number to about 97,000 kids.

Many in the profession said they’d still like to see more money given to early childhood education.

"I would really love to see more money allocated for teachers to get these specializations like the early childhood special education approval or more teachers to come back and to complete their ESL or bilingual endorsements,” said Joyce Bezdicek, an associate professor for the school of education at Millikin University.

They hope the trend of investing extra money in preschool continues for years to come.

"We do a lot of work in that room and it would be nice to be compensated a little bit more for what we do and to be recognized for all the things that we do,” St. Paul’s Early Learning Center teacher Jill Henson said.The new state budget is giving a financial boost to early education learning across Illinois.

"We are trying to get them to learn the basic skills that they will need so that they can become lifetime learners,” St. Paul’s Early Learning Center teacher Michelle Wall said.

The state’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget earmarked an extra $50 million this year for early childhood learning.

"What most of the funding will go to is teacher salaries because in early childhood one teacher can only teach a small group of children, so it's labor intensive work and that's where the money has to go," adjunct faculty at Millikin University Claudia Quigg said.

Early childhood has gotten a significant boost over the last decade.

In 2009, $379 million was allocated to the early childhood education.

In 2014, $300 million was allocated to the early childhood education.

In 2019, $493 million was allocated to early childhood education.

"There's so much research out there that shows that what we do in the first five years of life for a human being impacts the rest of their life significantly," said Christie Magoulias, Millikin University’s school of education director.

The Illinois State Board of Education said the extra funding will let about 5,000 more kids receive services in the upcoming fiscal year.

That will bring the total enrollment number to about 97,000 kids.

Many in the profession said they’d still like to see more money given to early childhood education.

"I would really love to see more money allocated for teachers to get these specializations like the early childhood special education approval or more teachers to come back and to complete their ESL or bilingual endorsements,” said Joyce Bezdicek, an associate professor for the school of education at Millikin University.

They hope the trend of investing extra money in preschool continues for years to come.

"We do a lot of work in that room and it would be nice to be compensated a little bit more for what we do and to be recognized for all the things that we do,” St. Paul’s Early Learning Center teacher Jill Henson said.

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