Schools Anxious About State Budget

Macomb, IL – The Macomb School District superintendent says the state's budget situation is "extremely frustrating."

The new fiscal year for all public school districts in the state begins July 1, which is just a couple weeks away. But there is no state budget yet, which means schools do not have a guarantee of how much state money to expect.

Macomb Superintendent Alene Reuschel hopes no cuts for schools are forthcoming. "It's a little late now to say 'Oh, by the way, we're only going to fund you at a 50% level,'" says Reuschel. "You have all your staffing in place. You can't let them go. You've got a moral obligation to children to make sure that they have the finest education possible."

Funding for the current fiscal year also remains a concern. Reuschel says the district is still owed one more General State Aid payment and at least a couple transportation payments.

The new state budget approved by lawmakers provides a funding increase for education. But the spending plan has not been sent to Governor Pat Quinn. The governor and legislative leaders are still working to fill an estimated budget gap of $11 billion.

The Macomb Board of Education received a report on district finances during its June 15 meeting. CPA Stephen Miller of PMA Financial Network told the board that districts often make five-year budget projections. But he said those planning horizons might need to be shortened because of the current level of uncertainty with the state.

Miller also said the Macomb district has $5 million in reserves in its Education Fund. But he thinks that could be reduced by half within the next five years.

Miller said the district receives half of its revenue from property taxes and one-quarter from General State Aid. The remaining quarter comes from the federal government and other local and state sources.

Search Continues for New Principal

Superintendent Reuschel says second round interviews with two candidates for Macomb High School principal will take place next week.

She says it's been difficult to garner a large pool of candidates because of the timing. Many school administrators are already locked into contracts for next year.

Reuschel also says candidates have shown promise but have no high school experience, which is a concern. "When you're looking at the flagship of a district the size and caliber of Macomb, an experienced administrator is something that has to be addressed," says Reuschel.

After the second round interviews, the district will decide whether to hire one of the finalists or use an interim principal for next school year.