More Illinois school districts balancing budget in tough times

SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) -  The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released its annual financial profile of the state's public schools using revised Fiscal Year 2010 data that takes into account that the state is behind in payments to school districts.

The 2011 financial profile scores show that the number of districts in Financial Recognition increased from last year's 550 to this year's 571, or nearly 66 percent of all districts are doing a sound job of managing their finances during this current fiscal crisis. Using the revised data, the percentage of districts in Financial Recognition is nearly 70 percent.

"Local school boards are grappling with decreased revenue and late payments from the state," said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. "Many districts have had to make very difficult and painful decisions during the past several years in order to try and balance budgets."

"While we expect continued lean economic times, the Board is advocating for increased education funding for the next fiscal year," adds Koch." "Even in times of great financial stress, we must continue to invest in education for our students and our state's future."

The Financial Profile is based on data from Fiscal Year 2010, which ended June 30, 2010.

Given the uncertainty of state funding, many school districts have announced layoffs in recent weeks to meet statutory deadlines and better position themselves for financial stability.

The 2011 Financial Profile data provided to ISBE showed a 2.5 percent increase in the number of districts that achieved Financial Recognition, going from 63.3 percent of districts last year to 65.8 percent this year.

The 2011 Financial Watch list for those districts facing the most severe financial problems decreased to 32 or 3.7 percent from 39 districts or 4.5 percent last year.