Harrisburg Schools borrow $1 million to pay teachers, keep district running

By Carly O'Keefe - bio | email

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - The Harrisburg School District will borrow $1 million to make payroll because the State of Illinois still has not paid its share of the school's funding.

The Harrisburg School Board approved a measure earlier this week to borrow the money and pay it back when next year's property tax revenue come in.

The loan is meant to fill in part of a $1.2 million gap in funding the state has yet to pay.

The Harrisburg School District has already cut 24 jobs including teachers, aides, and custodial workers, but that still didn't trim the budget enough. School board members say even if the district made deeper cuts to programs and extracurricular activities, there still wouldn't have been enough money left to get through the rest of the year, or make payroll for June.

Now that this year is taken care of, school board members fear the next fiscal year could be even worse.

"We've borrowed all we can borrow," said Harrisburg School Board President Todd Fort. "No matter what the state does, no matter if they pass a tax increase or not after the elections, they're not going to dig out of it in a year. So I anticipate several years of 'it's going to be ugly'."

Board members say this year they tried to make cuts across the board, minimizing the impact on students, but next year there may be even deeper cuts to extracurricular activities like sports, in addition to more cuts in the classroom.

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