Illinois lawmakers struggle with the state's education budget
WEST FRANKFORT, Ill. - Some small school districts in Illinois have been forced to shut their doors completely because of education budget cuts.
The state has yet to finalize a budget for schools for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The state has a history of cutting education money and it looks like this year will be no different.
School superintendents initially had heard that they would only receive 82% of the state's recommended allowance, but now the state is proposing that schools receive 89%.
That percentage difference, although small, translates into millions of dollars per district.
While it is better, it is still a significant cut.
The West Frankfort superintendent has been slicing and dicing in order to prepare for these proposed budget cuts which have not been finalized yet.
He says the state's inconsistency is making it hard to prepare for his school's future.
"It's just sit and hope. It's just been a guessing game all year," said Superintendent Greg Goin.
Goin wants to know how much money he will be able to work with starting July 1, and he does not think that is too much to ask.
"As school officials, all we've ever asked for at the state level is you tell us how much money we're going to receive and you do it in a timely manner," said Goin.
The only people roaming the halls on Tuesday were custodians, but Goin knows that cuts will affect the students.
He says where money lacks, so does the promise of an A+ education.
"At least 75% of our school district budget comes from general state aid which is about $8.59 million."
That means in the last two years, this district has lost $1.5 million in general state aid.
To make up for the loss, he has had to fire a kindergarten teacher, a junior high art teacher and an elementary music teacher, as well as cut some of the fine arts programs.
"I'm sitting here today hopefully optimistic that we're going to be restored to 89% when in reality we all should be throwing a fit that we've lost so much funding in the last three and a half years," said Goin.
He says for education to improve in Illinois, the budget must improve first.
The state has a deadline of May 30 to finalize a budget for the next fiscal year.