Last minute budget cuts frustrate Illinois school districts
By KMOV Web Producer
(KMOV) – School districts in the metro east didn’t find out how much money they’d receive from the state until days before school stated, and in most cases it was less than expected.
Not only did districts receive less funding than expected, they found out only a couple of weeks before school started – making it even more difficult for them to find more ways to cut.
The Edwardsville School District has cut $9 million from its budget over the last two years by reconfiguring bus routes and cutting 17 busses.
“All of a sudden we get the holiday surprise, your budget's going to be cut by another $300,000 that's a total of $750,000,” Edwardsville Superintendant Dr. Ed Hightower said.
In addition, the district’s attendance increased by 315 students and they had to hire two additional teachers.
According to officials, the last minute budget woes are the result of several factors compounding. First, the Illinois legislature did not pass the education budget until the last day of May, and then Gov. Quinn didn’t sign the bill until July. Add in additional weeks to get information from county assessors to factor into local property tax, and the result is the process not ending until August.
Until recently, districts like Edwardsville believe they’ve been able to make cuts without reducing education quality. They’re planning for additional cuts over the next two years, but it takes time and proper planning to avoid major upheavals that reduce education quality.
"When you said to your comunity here's what we've done that will get us through and then they say cut more, that's what's difficult," Dr. Hightower said.