The annual report doesn’t give detailed budget figures, but indicates there will be $400 million less in education funding in Fiscal Year 2014. It’s unclear, at this point, how the government cuts would affect District 117. If pension reform is passed this spring the figures could change for the better.
Board of Education president Mindy Olson says it would be difficult to find addition places to slash District 117’s budget.
“Many in the public are aware we’ve made substantial cuts in our budget,” says Olson. “We’re starting this week to look at the budget again and we’re at a $2 million deficit starting out. We’re going to certainly look at cuts. When we get down further in this and we keep getting more cuts from the government we’re going to be further down into people and I don’t know how anybody expects us to educate their children when we don’t have the money to do that.”
If pension reform doesn’t happen and the 2011 temporary income tax hike is allowed to expire, spending for education throughout the state could drop by about $1.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2015.
“You’re going to come to a point where you’re going to have four walls standing and a teacher in front of it with no extracurricular activities,” says Olson. “You’re going to have nothing fancy but just the four walls. I don’t know if that’s the avenue the legislators think they need to be taking, but I don’t think that’s the best way to teach children. You don’t get an overall education with fine arts and sports. I think they both play an equal part in somebody’s education.”
Olson says the district could still consider an alternative revenue stream through a county-wide sales tax increase if state funds keep shrinking.
“Certainly, the sales tax would help,” says Olson. “We’d be able to redirect that million dollars into the education fund which is going to help out tremendously. Plus, be able to maintain our facilities with the extra funds.
“You look down the road, if the state government doesn’t have funds and they’re making cuts, are they going do away with the [capital development program] to where we’re going to be stuck maintaining our buildings since we can’t build new ones. So, we need that money in our O & M fund to maintain the buildings that we have.”
Preliminary numbers for 2014 show budgets for services such as courts and state agencies are expected to have a reduction of about $265 million. Budget officials say it's premature to say if the state will layoff workers. They do say pension reform is needed to get Illinois on the right track.