Central Junior High School in West Frankfort is Feeling the Impact of Budget Impasse

Jun 22, 2017

State legislators were called back to Springfield last week for a special session in a attempt to pass a budget.

It's the final week of the fiscal year and Illinois is still without a budget.

Principal Charley Cass is preparing for the start of his 7th year at Central Junior High School in West Frankfort.

When Cass started, things were running smoothly.

“We actually had quite a bit of reserve, we were on the financial honor roll list with the state board, we were serving kids, we were funding programs that we needed.”

Then came Illinois’ budget impasse.

“Things were cut down to half time, anything we could to save money (* if too short - because we are a school district like many others around here that are dependent upon that state aide.”)

Now the students don’t have an art class, and they have a part-time teacher that was retired giving them band and music lessons.

With the fiscal year ending June 30, and still no state budget, Cass says what he hears from other schools is starting to feel like a movie.

“It’s like groundhog’s day, it seems like every summer you have schools saying, ‘Hey, we can’t open, or we won’t be able to stay open until January.’”

Cass says they will open, but without the state funding it won’t take long to go into the red.                

“We’ve already bare minimumed everything over these last couple of years, we’ve looked at cuts every year we meet and there’s just nothing else to cut.”

Another problem for this school is categorical items like special education and transportation. Last year they received 1 out of 4 payments from the state - amounting to a 75% reduction.

“They’re legally mandated but the legislature is not sending the money for those.”

State lawmakers were called back to Springfield last week for a special session in an attempt to pass a budget