CHICAGO -- A last-ditch effort to free up $35 million for the cash-strapped Chicago Board of Education to fund teacher pay raises failed last Friday in the Illinois General Assembly.

The plan would have required the Chicago School Finance Authority -- the state-created panel that must approve the board's budget each year -- to loosen a reserve fund restriction. That would have given the board access to $17.5 million this year and next to fund 2% teacher pay raises each year, according to Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

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