Parents Protest School Funding Cuts

The state’s debt to Illinois school districts now tops 800 million dollars.

The districts, in turn, are forced to lay off teachers, cut programs and reduce services to students, and parents are angry.

A group of parents from Indian Prairie School District 204 packed up their anger and took it on a road trip down to Springfield to let legislators know just how they felt.

“I think the kids are kind of being a pawn in this game,” said Lori Price, School District 204 parent.

Lori Price is one of the parents fed up with the results of this year’s statewide financial crisis and how it’s affecting her children.

The mother of two District 204 children was one of the organizers of the “Caravan to the Capital.” This is part of a statewide effort to lobby lawmakers and ask them to restore educational funding. Price has also put together a video to get the message out.

This year, the state can not meet its funding obligations due to reduced revenues and it’s hitting local schools hard. The funding for next year looks bleak as well. In his budget proposal for Fiscal 2011, Governor Quinn calls for more than a billion dollars in education funding cuts.

But Quinn says he’d like to raise the state income tax by one percent and funnel that money into education to offset the cuts.

But that does not help school districts like Indian Prairie School District 204 right now. The district had to let 145 teachers go and raise fees to cut 21-million dollars from its budget.

“We’d love to be less reliant on the state, but we received in the current year, about $48 million,” said Dave Holm, District 204 Assistant Superintendent of Business. “So if we said, OK we’re not going to spend 48 million or even less than that we’re back to the same thing we’re in now, which is reductions.”

That is why these concerned parents targeted Springfield.

“The Republicans, unfortunately, don’t have a say. I think, Linda Holmes, I hope she listened to us. She said she did,” said Michelle Yarris, PTA President at Owen Elementary School. “She’s hoping to get back to us on some things. I’m glad we went. Our voice was heard and that’s all we can ask for.”

District 204 hasn’t finalized its 2011 budget yet, but school board members are working on it and plan on finishing sometime this spring when the State General Assembly finalizes its budget.

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