Schools bracing for fewer funds

By Alex Davis |

Published 10/25 2013 11:09AM

Updated 10/25 2013 11:13AM

SPRINGFIELD -- Schools around the state are again preparing for less state funding. They're supposed to be funded 100%. Last year, they got 89% of what the state owed them. WCIA-3's Alex Davis has more.

Schools could get even less next year. The number could drop another 4%. Less funding means districts which are already strapped for cash may have to forfeit any plans to improve their schools or lesson plans, or may need to dip into reserves to make up the difference.

Less school funding is something troubling Sandra Walden. Her daughter is a senior at Williamsville High.

"A school district is not like the state where we can just raise taxes. We have to rely on what we're given."

Over the past three years, the state has underfunded Williamsville-Sherman School District by about $1.5 million.

"I don't see things getting better until the state starts really managing their money better. I don't know what we're going to do."

The State Board of Education is advising districts to err on the side of caution when putting next year's budget together. Funding could be at just 85%.

"We're basically victims of a flawed school funding system here in Illinois."

District 15's Dave Root says underfunding by 15% would mean the state could withhold another $800,000 from his district.

"When you depend on state aid as much as these schools do down here because we don't have the property values, when state cuts those funding levels, it dramatically impacts these rural school districts to the point where basically we're just trying to survive."

But, Williamsville's problem is not unique. Root says school districts throughout the state face similar challenges.

"School funding in Illinois is 50 out of 50 states, so we're the lowest, the most poorly-funded state in the union when it comes to education."

State officials say school districts are supposed to spend $6,119 per student.

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