The number of Illinois school districts operating in the red decreased by nearly 30 percent in 2004 as 200 districts improved their finances.
The Illinois State Board of Education has released a preliminary report on the districts' finances. It shows that in the 2004 budget year 57 percent, or 502 districts, spent more money than they took in from local, state and federal governments.
A year earlier 82 percent, or more than 700 districts, ran financial deficits.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's education aides say the report shows progress is being made, but educators say it doesn't mean districts are providing the best education.