Governor Rauner recently signed House Bill 3763, appropriating funds for education, increasing K-12 funding by $244 million, and early childhood education by $25 million.
“The governor has said that from the get go he has been a big supporter of public education, charter schools, private school, he knows it’s the quickest way out of poverty for those kids in the state of Illinois,” said Senator Michael Connelly.
It was not the budget amount Governor Rauner initially proposed, but with the pressure of the budget deadline, he decided to at least address education funding.
“He chose allowing the schools to open, I believe last year there was an 87% proration state wide its 92% in this budget, there’s a lot going on in Springfield for the long term of Illinois and I think the governor made a decision to ensure that schools are open in the fall,” said Senator Connelly.
And though it’s $1.5 million more in general state aid from what District 204 received last year, Superintendent Karen Sullivan still feels they have much to worry about.
“There’s pension cost shifts, there’s whatever else they might do with property taxes, all of that impacts us and that’s what I said to the legislators who had called me about this bill and whether or not we would support it. Well obviously we want more general state aid or a move toward at least funding as to what the law says, the law says they’re supposed to fully fund the schools, these other pieces impact us as well so until the whole package is done, we really don’t know what our revenue is,” said Sullivan.
And District 203 shares the same frustrations; as they have already begun the process of planning for the next school year, not knowing what numbers they can plug in from the state.
Unfortunately every spring when we look to build our budget for the upcoming fiscal year we really have to take an estimate at what we think the state will provide. The most frustrating thing for me, and I know for other superintendents in the school district, is the state continues to fail to meet its 100% obligation to fund education in its entirety, it doesn’t appear to be a priority,” said Superintendent Dan Bridges of District 203.
The first school aid payment is scheduled for August 10.