IL leaders say they've reached school funding deal; time running out for schools

ELKVILLE, IL (KFVS/AP) - Illinois' legislative leaders say they've reached a tentative agreement in the state's school funding fight, but details are still being worked out.

This is good news for districts like Elverado CUSD #196, one of many struggling to stay afloat because of lack of funding.

A seasoned teacher at Elverado, Donna Waller, explained how the looming fear since the start of school.

"We worry from day to day if we are going to be here," she said. "If the school is going to be open. Whats going to happen with our kids. Whats going to happen with our program."

The uncertainty stems from the lack of funding because of the lack of resolutions with the school funding bill, Senate Bill 1.

Waller expresses her concern, "It just added that stress…so That excitement of being able to come back and do everything and get ready for the school year it kind of put a damper on that."

She explained the sacrifices teachers have to make, "And as educators, we are doing everything we can to do that, but we taking on that as a personal thing. We are using our personal money and our personal time and things to do that. And that's not a complaint, it's just a fact of life. We are taking on the burden because they are not stepping up and being responsible."

Superintendent Kevin Spain explained what's at stake.

"Our board is going to go ahead…we'll borrow some money, but we are not going to run that entire $540,000 out to get us to September 21st board meeting," he said. "At that time, if there is nothing that has passed, the board has a very difficult decision to make. Do we close the doors until state money becomes available?"

Spain said time is running out. Even that 540,000 line of credit will only last one month.

"People in district work hard. We provide everything we can. But at some point, something's going to give," Spain explained.

"If they don't think the kids are hurting, and realize what's going on, they are wrong," Waller said. "They are hurting their future generation."

Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin issued a statement Thursday saying there's "agreement in principle," but wording won't be released until "drafts have been reviewed."

Democratic leaders Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan said in a statement that they've reached "agreement in concept."

The four are expected to meet again in Springfield on Sunday, a day before the House convenes.

There's wide agreement that Illinois' 20-year-old school funding formula is unfair. But Democrats and Republicans have disagreed over fixes.

The budget legislators approved last month over Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's objections requires a new formula for schools to get state money this year.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.