Gov. Rauner Visits Murphysboro High School

Mar 23, 2016

Governor Bruce Rauner took his call for more funding for K through 12 education to students at Murphysboro High School.

During his visit Wednesday, the governor took questions from students in a government class.
Many of the questions focused on the budget standoff's impact on education. Rauner told the class his economic growth reform plans are the key to a better education system.

"Growth gets us the money to put in your schools and fund your teachers and growth gets us the careers so you can be whatever you want to be in Illinois."

Murphysboro schools superintendent Chris Grode says the district is alright for the remainder of this academic year. But, he's worried about the potential for state funding when students return for a new school year in August.

"We had our general state aid this year. Eighty percent of my revenue really comes from general state aid. I'm dependent on general state aid. When those checks stop coming in, I'm going to be scrambling."

Grode says Murphysboro Schools have lost over four million dollars in state aid over the last decade. He says the district has no fund balance, so a reduction in or lack of state funding will put him in a dire situation.

The governor toured several of the school's vocational classes.

In a robotics class, Rauner and Murphysboro student Charles Cunningham talked about how they incorporate the building of robots into everyday applications.

"Say, someone has a broken phone and they don't have enough to pay for it," said Murphysboro robotics students Charles Cunningham.

"You can fix it here?" asked Rauner.

"We can bring it in here and fix it ourselves, " said Cunningham.

Grode says he's proud of the high school's vocational programs. He says these programs are helping local businesses, such as Caretak, that tracks Alzheimer's patients with telemetry.

"He came and did a presentation to our robotics team because he's looking at how to put it on a drone. My kids are looking at how to get telemetry to talk wirelessly. We're going to give him, possibly, some ideas to emerge into a new market. That's economic development."

But, Grode says his vocational programs will be gone without continued general state aid funding.

A group of protesters stood just off the Murphysboro High School campus during Governor Rauner's visit to the school.

Illinois Education Association representative Bret Seferian says the governor's insistence on pushing his agenda over a state budget needs to stop now.

He says although K through 12 education is receiving state funding, that doesn't mean everything is well and good.

"So, they funded K through 12 with an appropriation, and it looked good. But, there's a bunch of other grants and other programs that help disadvantaged students, special needs, all kinds of things and that money isn't there."

John A. Logan College Board of Trustees student representative Brandi Husch says the lack of state funding for higher education flies in the face of the governor's agenda of improving the state economy.

"You're not going to fund higher education, which trains Illinois residents for better paying jobs, more money in their pockets, buying more services."

Husch says administrators at Logan are planning for no state funding the rest of this fiscal year and half-funding for the next fiscal year, plus borrowing five million dollars.