Parents consider moving students out of Illinois school districts

Illinois’ budget impasse has parents concerned about the school year. They’re now asking where their child will receive an education, in Illinois, Kentucky, or home school. 

Massac County Unit 1 recently sent out a letter to parents and posted it on its website. The letter tells parents they have reserves to keep the school open, but it’s reluctant to spend that money because there is no guarantee those funds will be reimbursed.

State funds make up 50 percent of the school district’s budget. The school could have to wait for even more funds, because the state disburses 13 percent of federal aid money to the school districts.

School leaders say their hands are tied, and parents are wrestling with what to do next.  

Her kids love being out for the summer, but Jennifer Travis is worried the break may last too long.

“Is it going to take a month to be fixed?" Travis says. "And then it’s going to be April, May before we know it, and our kids are supposed to be advancing to the next grade.”

Travis says she worries how much learning her kids will lose if they don’t go back to the school they know, because of issues on the state level. So, she says her family’s forced to consider other options: to send them to Kentucky for school or start home schooling.

“I have a kindergartner who’s excited to get started, and we don’t know if that’s going to happen anymore now," Travis says.

Superintendent Dennis Smith, like many others, doesn’t have an answer. "We offer all we can with the money we’re given, and that’s what this comes down to is money," he says.

Smith says the district may have to close books and the doors to students by November unless the state figures out a K-12 budget. He says he doesn’t want to see his school district’s students go elsewhere, but knows ultimately its education at stake.

He says the board hasn’t made a final decision on when the school year will start or, for that matter, end. He says the board will try to set a date for a community meeting in July to discuss the future of the upcoming school year.

We reached out to McCracken County Schools. The west Kentucky school district does accept out-of-state students, but parents should consider curriculum and extra-curricular activities before making the switch. Tuition for out-of-state students is almost $4,000 a year.

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