You are undoubtedly aware that the state of Illinois now has not had a budget for more than a year. What’s worse, there is no end in sight for the political fight in Springfield that has led to this deplorable situation.
The media have already started reporting on the possibility of schools not opening this fall if the Legislature and governor do not agree soon on a budget – or at very least a plan to fund public education until they can reach a budget deal.
Rest assured that District 202 schools will definitely open Aug. 17 as scheduled.
However, to be clear, continued delays by the Legislature and governor could seriously hurt us. State funding makes up about 27 percent of District 202’s operating revenue. That’s about $67.5 million. That figure does not include funding for transportation or special education.
If the state does not find a way to fund public schools, we will have to rely on our “savings” to operate and pay the bills, just like the average home. We have enough money to keep the doors open for approximately 100 school days. Obviously, that’s not a lot of time.
Until a budget or PreK-12 funding plan is called for a vote, our local representatives have very little role in this situation. The state governance system gives the power to decide which bills get heard, debated and voted on to the speaker of the House and the Senate president. The governor, of course, has the final say when he signs or rejects the bills that come to him.
Therefore, Gov. Bruce Rauner, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton must find a way to work together to create a budget that adequately and fairly supports all Illinois public schools, for this year and beyond.
Things are so bad in Springfield that most people want to avoid the situation altogether. We understand and share those feelings. Still, if there was ever a time to call your local representatives, this is it.
Even though they don’t have a strong role yet, they are still responsible for carrying our concerns to the capitol. A list of District 202’s state and local elected representatives is posted on the district’s website, www.psd202.org, under “Community.”
Meanwhile, please know that the School District 202 Board and administration will continue to watch this situation and act where and how we can.
We will also continue to plan for all contingencies to make sure that all of our students and families receive appropriate services and supports to the best of our abilities.
Together, we will continue to prepare learners for the future.
• Lane Abrell is the Superintendent of Schools for Plainfield Community Consolidated District 202.