School Districts throughout West Central Illinois are feelings the effects of Illinois’ frequently unpredictable state government.
Waverly School District Superintendent Dustin Day joined WLDS’ “What’s On Your Mind?” program yesterday.
Day discussed a number of issues he’s faced during his two years as Superintendent, most notably those coming from action taken at the state capital.
“Over the last eight, nine years there’s been close to fifty unfunded mandates put on districts in Illinois. And when the governor assigned that we have complete general state aid. Well it hadn’t been paid since 2008. What our sources are telling us is that they had taken that from the special education line item, $370 million, so what we’re doing is we’re just ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul,'” says Day.
Day believes that without any new state money going towards education, districts throughout Illinois will continue to struggle.
“We talk about funding formulas all the time, but unless they talk about any new money to education, all you’re doing is just moving the same money around, and some districts are going to win and some are going to lose. For us, our equalized assess value of our complete district went up $2 million for next year, and our enrollment dropped a little bit. I’ll take in $158,000 less next year. Those challenges are every day,” Day explains.
Due to the uncertainties, Day says his district has allocated for full funding this year. However, those allocations don’t take into account certain mandates like transportation.
Day says these inconsistencies make it extremely challenging to plan for the future.
“It becomes very difficult because you plan and then the game changes. You’re constantly changing what you have to do to address those needs as they come forward. For example, when we’re doing long-term planning, we budget, but that could change tomorrow. You have to plan in September for your budget knowing that you set your levy in December on how much money you take in,” says Day.
While Day feels people are less enticed to get into teaching recently, providing a quality education is paramount.
“It’s tough to find teachers, just because it’s not truly inviting to go into the profession now that they have to work til they’re seventy. I am a big proponent that there should be high standards, high professionalism, high accountability. We have a very, very important job. We are providing the education for our future generations. I don’t want to be second-fiddle to anyone, I want our kids leaving Waverly and being the best,” Day says.
To hear our entire interview with Superintendent Day, go to our website at wlds/weai.com.