WSIU InFocus: K-12 Education Budget

Jan 6, 2015


With a new year comes a new governor and a new budget.

Governor Elect Bruce Rauner has indicated that the state is deep financial trouble and cuts will need to be made.

That news has local school superintendents worried about how that will affect students in the coming years.

In the second part of our series looking at what steep budget cuts mean for this area we talked to the administrators at Carbondale and Goreville High School.

No two kids are alike and the same goes for school districts.

They are unique in their own way, from the classes, the teachers, the students, and so are their needs, except for one thing.

Funding.

Schools need funding to give students the best education they can.

With higher education already bracing for a possible cut in state funding as the temporary state income tax increase expires, local school districts are preparing for the same.

“Anytime you talk about cutting state funding, your talking about a state funding that’s already inadequate for schools.” 

In Johnson County, Goreville High School has around 200 students.

Superintendent Dr. Steve Webb says they receive around 40% of their funding from the state.

These cuts and cuts from previous years mean fewer electives for students.

“We at Goreville have been cutting back for the last four years because of their cuts to our state funding to the point that we’ve lost most of our family and consumer sciences program and we have minimalized as much as possible our vocational program.” 

Carbondale High School is about 30 minutes northwest of Goreville and has over 1000 students.

Superintendent Steve Murphy says 30% of their funding comes from the state.

These cuts will have a direct Impact on his staff.

When your talking that level cut your talking people, your talking teachers, administrators, secretaries, teacher aides in school so it won’t be solved by selling a bus.” 

Even as state funding is cut,  school leaders say they’ve been dealing with this for the last few years, and they face similar decisions on how to make up for the decrease.

“Anytime you cut programs you cut employees.”   

“When your talking cuts of that magnitude your talking people.” 

Both schools will lose a significant amount of money with the tax expiring.

“So about a half million dollar cut every year for Carbondale High School, that’s a big cut for us we would look at seeing what types of programs we need to cut if that stays long term.”   

Leaving administrators throughout the area very few places to look for cuts that they have not already tightened the belt on.

“We’re talking about peoples lives here when your talking about these cuts across the board in southern Illinois, just the cuts that are in place right now have impacted districts to the tune of literally 10’s of millions of dollars if you look at southern Illinois as a whole already in the last 4 years.”

Making it hard for schools to offer more than the core classes to their students.

“For example the state and federal mandates about 75% of our high school program, but they pay less than 30%, so your talking about an already inadequate program that their causing even more of a spread of inadequacies.”   

But sometimes they don’t even get the full 30%,

“You can’t even rely on all of your state payments to come in of what they told you your going to get, so we’ve lost about a million and a half over the last 5 years of just them not sending what they said they were going to send, everything’s so up in the air you end up not staffing those programs and kids lose.” 

Making educators feel that they are taking steps backwards in giving students the education and tools they need to be successful.

“You hate the fact that your own children are going to be in a school at a time when the state is cutting funding that their not going to get the same education as maybe your older child did or maybe as you did whenever you were in high school and that’s pretty depressing for schools these days.” 

Which has many asking this of the states elected officials.

“So my question to any legislators is OK what do you want me to cut from your children, because I’m cutting from my children, and that’s a devastating thing to have to say?”

Multiple education organizations have developed a blue print for a long-range plan for improving public education.

It’s called the Illinois Vision 20/20 plan, and will focus on providing the most opportunities for students by focusing on each students needs.

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