School District 45 depends on state and local sources for funding. When those sources are in jeopardy, the district is impacted.
On March 6, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn presented his fiscal 2014 budget plan. Included in that plan is a $370 million cut to support elementary and high schools. If finalized, this would be the third- consecutive year that education funding was reduced.
What continues to be the directive from Springfield is to increase actions and activities required by school districts yet under-fund or eliminate funding in which to implement these legislative mandates. So what does the state’s fiscal 2014 budget plan mean to School District 45? Preliminary reports indicate that the School District will lose:
• $660,646 in General State Aid funds – an 18 percent reduction in general state aid entitlement will force district decisions on classroom support, student enrichment opportunities and remedial provisions for students. Many of our reading specialists, kindergarten interventionists and after-school tutors are hired with this state grant revenue.
• $3,000 in transportation funds – This means that required bus routes, as mandated by the state, will now be paid through our local coffers.
This state funding reduction is in addition to the looming question as to whether the state pension costs will be shifted to the school districts and school district employees throughout the state. Recently, the Illinois House of Representatives took action for pension reform legislation. This legislation would impact all retirement systems, including the Teachers’ Retirement System, by limiting the pensionable salaries. It is anticipated that more discussions and negotiations will take place before the final pension reform legislation is adopted.
Providing rigorous, quality education to all of the students of School District 45 is a top priority for the district. Yet as with your household budgets, the district must be financially responsible and live within our means.
Balancing the educational priorities of the district and living within the financial parameters of the district is always a challenge. Adding to that challenge is the uncertainty of additional legislative mandates and additional district financial obligations.
School District 45 began our fiscal 2014 budget-building process in December 2012. Our budget must be approved by Sept. 16, 2013. The deadline for legislators to pass a fiscal 2014 budget is May 31, 2013.
Janice Rosales is superintendent for School District 45.