IMSA Spared Funding Cut Over Diversity ... For Now

May 28, 2014

State Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, is concerned about ethnic and economic diversity at the Illinois Math and Science Academy.

The Illinois Math and Science Academy has been spared a significant cut under the budget approved Tuesday in the Illinois House.

Lawmakers had previously voted to slash $1.8 million from the elite public school's state funding.

Representative Ken Dunkin is a Democrat from Chicago and chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. He says in prior years, IMSA has gotten increased state funding in order to improve diversity. Dunkin says he has not been satisfied with the results.

“They simply have not delivered on their African-American and their Latino students, as well as their faculty," he says. "The numbers are abysmal. It does not reflect the state of Illinois.”

Dunkin says the school is also not economically diverse — that students are increasingly from higher-income families.

"We don't want this sort of elite academic haven for the wealthy, subsidized by the general public," Dunkin says.

Despite previously supporting the funding cut, Dunkin now says he'll sit down with IMSA officals them and have them come up with an "aggressive strategic plan" to improve diversity. He emphasizes that the proposed funding cut "was not an idle threat."

If the latest version of the budget becomes law, the school would get the same state funding it did in the previous budget year.

IMSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.