Illinois Board of Education, lawmakers spar over education cuts -

Illinois Board of Education, lawmakers spar over education cuts

( -- The top education officials in Illinois were in Belleville Wednesday at Westhaven Elementary to hand out awards to 17 schools from 13 districts covering three southern Illinois counties.

All of those schools were named to the 2012 Illinois Honor Roll. Another thing all the schools have in common is the fact they’re all fighting budget cuts. 

Looking to the future, Illinois Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico says the cuts can’t continue without crippling the education system.

“Once we start to take away the resources as we have done in Illinois for four years in a row, we’ve been cut nearly 1 point 2 billion dollars,” he said. “That’s going to have an impact in our classrooms, and we have to ring the bell about that.”

Chico says some schools like Westhaven still excel despite the cuts, but he says there’s just no more fat to trim.

To combat the tremendous shortfall, the board proposed a new education budget to stem the tide. It calls for restoring $875 million cut over the last three to four years.

“We are working in the general assembly to push back against those cuts,” said BOE member Jim Baumann. “Because it is going to have an impact on children, communities and our future.”

State Senator Bill Haine said he doesn’t blame the board of education for blaming lawmakers. But he said as long as there is no pension reform, the education budget will continue to get cut.

Haine said if board members want more money for schools they should go to the legislature and get behind some form of pension reform.

Meanwhile in classrooms all across southern Illinois, parents and teachers are learning to do more with less.

“We understand we are going to be doing our part,” said Matt Klosterman, Belleville Dist. 118 Superintendent. “If the revenue is not there the revenue is not there. Then we have to make decisions to work around that.”

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