Schools prepare for no state money, as budget impasse continues - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Schools prepare for no state money, as budget impasse continues

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WSIL --School district administrators throughout Illinois remain concerned about state funding, as legislators continue a nine-month battle for a budget.

Last year, money for K-12 schools stayed above the budget mess, but this year, school leaders fear they may not get the same deal. Leaders at Anna-Jonesboro High School are already preparing. Keeping costs as low as possible comes as nothing new for teachers there.

"I think that hurts our academics, and I think as teachers we can only do so much to bring in resources," said Kendra Denny, who teaches math at Anna-Jonesboro High School.

Administrators there voted Monday night to make several teachers part time, a small step preparing for a potentially big void in state money.

Last year, Illinois budgeted for K-12 education early.

"Thoughts are they may not do a separate K-12 bill this year, and we may be in the same boat as higher education and others that didn't get funding," explained Rob Wright, superintendent of Anna-Jonesboro Community High School.

The Illinois State Board of Education released a 2016 financial report that found more districts are expected to go into debt this year, unless lawmakers provide schools with full funding. That hasn't happened for years, Wright said.

"We have to prepare for the worst, because we certainly know we can't depend upon the state."

Although the board of education report puts fewer schools on the financial watch list this year, it warns their economic outlook continues to deteriorate, and any extra cuts will affect the quality of education.

"If you look at the overall picture of the state, it's hard to believe there's going to be a pot of money out there for us," Wright said.

The Spring Garden School board, in Jefferson County, voted to lay off two teachers at its last meeting due to state budget concerns.

The Spring Garden district superintendent says the board may have to explore cuts to non-certified staff at their next meeting on Apr. 21.

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