Academy's budget cut over racial makeup of students, faculty

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora gets a 1.8 percent cut in its budget next year, under a spending plan revealed Wednesday by the House Higher Education-Appropriations Committee.

The academy's black and Hispanic enrollment and faculty hiring is the reason, committee members said.

The academy has received budget increases in recent years but those were contingent on improvements in enrollment and hiring, said Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago.

"They simply did not live up to that return on investment," Dunkin said.

Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat whose district includes the academy, said shs supported the cut.

She said that of the 650 residential students at the school, 299 are white, 296 are Asian, 71 are Latino and 62 are African-American. The remainder did not report their race, she said. She said there were few black or Hispanic faculty members.

"I have been very frustrated having to defend myself to my minority colleagues for fighting for money for (the math and science academy), when they come to an event there and they don't see the black or brown children," she said. "It's almost become an elitist residential program."

Chapa La Via added, "It's in my district. I'm aware of the cuts. They're aware of the cuts. We can't keep standing by and saying, 'OK, do better next year.'"

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