Seventeen Illinois schools are suing the state over funding issues and prorating by the state’s board of education.
Most of the schools suing the state are from rural areas in the St. Louis Metro East region in Southern Illinois, and have large numbers of low-income students. These schools say they want a new formula for funding schools across the state.
WLDS-WEAI News had the chance to talk to Superintendent Brad Skertich from Southwestern Community Unit School District 9, whose school is one of those listed in the suit. Skertich explains why the schools are coming together for the lawsuit.
“We welcome the learning standards, we like the expectations that have been placed on our teachers, and with the lack of funding from the state, we can’t meet there needs. We’re being required to do more with less. Our teachers and administrators can’t sustain what they’re doing. We have larger class sizes, greater expectations, and students are the ones that are going to suffer because of adult problems,” says Skertich
As for how this could affect schools in West Central Illinois, specifically Jacksonville School District 117, Superintendent Steve Ptacek says while this district isn’t involved in the lawsuit, he still has concerns about the lack of state funding.
“I don’t foresee it necessarily being a major change with any of the options they’re talking about with changing the funding formula or with the lawsuit. But the jury is still out on that and I don’t have enough information to be fully certain on the impact of the school district. While we’re not jumping in on the lawsuit, we are right now, very concerned about future funding, especially when you start talking about a property tax freeze,” says Ptacek.
Ptacek expands on how District 117 relates to other schools around the state.
“Looking at the data from the push to change the funding formula, Jacksonville has been labeled as one of the winner in the changing of the funding formula. In other words, if we went to a different system, Jacksonville would probably get more state aid, get a higher revenue. But the amount of money is not a major change, because we’re right on that borderline between higher-income schools and lower-income schools…we’re right in the middle,” says Pracek.
The lack of a state budget has caused the majority of Illinois schools to miss out on categorical payments for things such as transportation and special education.