Illinois school districts brace for funding cuts - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Illinois school districts brace for funding cuts

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) -

A new school year has started but Illinois school districts are bracing for a big financial hit.

The State of Illinois calculates its support of local school districts through a complicated formula that determines a per-pupil average. Illinois' current per-pupil figure is set at $6,119 per student, but the state won't be paying that this year.

The overall amount budgeted for schools this year is less than the total of that per-pupil average multiplied by the total number of students in Illinois. The state determined it could only pay schools 89 percent of that $6,119 per student rate.

The prorated 89 percent is the equivalent to funding levels for the 2007-2008 school year, according to Sesser Schools superintendent Jason Henry

In Johnston City schools, 11 percent less cash from the state means a loss of more than $610,000. Johnston City superintendent Jack Bambrick says the district has enough of a fund balance its bank account to cover that loss this year, but next year Johnston City schools will feel the pinch.

"These cuts are going to be deep. They're going to hurt," Bambrick said. "There's no better way to say it but these are unprecedented times in public education in Illinois."

Bambrick says the district will investigate potential places to cut in the coming months, but cuts won't take effect until fiscal year 2014.

The Marion School District doesn't have as big of a bank account to fall back on. The district worked to dig itself out of debt just last year making huge cuts and layoffs.

That's why School Board President Wayne Tate says his board planned ahead for a shortage of state funds this year.

The Marion Unit #2 District budgeted for a $1.4 million shortfall in state funding. As it turns out, the state will only short the district $1.1 million. Still, Tate says he's glad they planned ahead.

"If you don't plan ahead you'd get hammered by this," Tate said.

Tate says the board will continue looking for more places to cut, because he doesn't think the state's financial picture will improve anytime soon.

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