More than 20 school superintendents from across Illinois met in Chicago last week to discuss aid cuts, and called on state leaders to avert $1.3 billion in funding reductions proposed in the fiscal 2011 budget.

“The scope of the proposed cuts is unprecedented,” said Brent Clark of the Illinois Association of School Administrators. “We are all facing hard times and Illinois is in a very challenging position, but the extent of these cuts is drastic. Schools throughout our state will be forced to part ways with record numbers of teachers if nothing is done. This will hurt our students.”

The group warned more than 20,000 jobs would be lost under the proposed cuts. Chicago Public Schools has warned that it might have to slash 3,000 teachers’ positions. The state’s second largest district, in Elgin, has warned it would cut 1,000 teacher and support positions.

The districts said they are already struggling because of delays in state  payments. There is a backlog of more than $4.5 billion in bills due to districts, human services providers, and other vendors.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said the $1.3 billion in cuts would be needed to help balance the budget unless lawmakers approve an income tax surcharge.

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