Administrators say funding is too little, too late

Published 06/08 2013 06:03PM

Updated 06/10 2013 02:00PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Now that lawmakers are done for the summer, it's up to Governor Quinn to finalize the state's budget. It has to be done by the end of the month, but those who count on state funding say it's tough to plan ahead when they don't know how much they're getting. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

All year the governor's warned the state pension needs to be fixed or we'll feel the squeeze on precious state funds. After months of stalled talks, cuts were finally made. One of the main targets for cuts was schools.

In this year's budget address, Quinn laid out a plan to slash $400 million for education; a crippling number for already struggling districts statewide. Lawmakers decided to put that money back into the classrooms by matching what schools got last year.

New Berlin Superintendent Adam Ehrman says he's glad the cuts won't be so steep, but it's still too little too late.

"It's not bad news, but it's not news that changes what we're looking at."

That's because even after restoring Quinn's cuts, schools still aren't getting the money they need.

"It's important to remember that level funding is still a cut. Last year was cuts, and the year before that was cuts. So, great that we're not talking about getting any more cuts or deeper cuts."

The $6.5 billion spread out to schools across the state only covers 89% of the foundation level. That's the minimum amount the state says schools should spend per student, and it's forcing districts to cut back.

"Just because the money's not there doesn't mean the expenditure's not there."

Ehrman also states that this year the problem is even worse. Since the budget gets finished so close to the deadline, schools have to plan for the worst.

"We can't count on revenue. Some cuts you can't go back on. Teachers have already been laid off. It would be nice going into the month of June knowing what we have, but that's not reality."

The budget has to be approved by the end of June. The new fiscal year begins July 1, 2013.

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