Schuyler-Industry School Superintendent Mat Plater says lawmakers have not been up-front with some of the cuts made to education funding. Schools are getting less money even though the budget line for General State Aid has not changed.
He says, “They found a quieter, more politically-correct way to reduce that. You don't hear anybody talking about reducing the foundation level anymore. They're just not appropriating enough dollars to pay at that level so it automatically gets reduced.”
Plater says the Illinois State Board of Education estimates the foundation formula will be funded at 89% of the budgeted amount. The full amount should be over $6,100 per pupil. Plater estimates the actual funding level is $5,700 per pupil.
That means $300,000 less for the district.
Plater says that shortfall has serious repercussions. In the past, he used money from the foundation formula payments to bolster the transportation budget after the state cut those reimbursements 42% two years ago. Plater says that is no longer an option at the lower foundation formula funding level. The transportation cut costs the district $450,000 every school year.
Plater says the district was on the state's financial watch list 12 years ago when he took over. The district made progress and, he feels, it was on solid financial footing. Recent state cuts are reversing that progress.
He says, “We went very quickly from having a balanced budget and being a little better off than that to now, this year, we're most definitely gong to have a deficit budget.”
He says the district will use reserve funds to make up the difference this year.