Illinois schools brace in budget process

May 8, 2014

Spring is budgeting time for schools in Illinois. Over the past few years, school officials in poorer districts have had to cut staff and programs in order to balance their checkbooks. 

Declining state funding, coupled with decreased property values have resulted in a double-whammy shortfall. Especially in districts that aren't property-wealthy to begin with. Gregg Fuerstenau, superintendent at Taylorville schools, says he sees funding cuts deteriorating the quality of his students' education.

"I look into their eyes now and I think to myself, 'How in the world, if this continues to happen, how are we going to be able to provide those resources to those children and experience the education that I had?'

Fuerstenau and other downstate superintendents were at the capitol Thursday to voice their support for a plan before the General Assembly that would overhaul how schools are funded in Illinois. The proposal would direct more state funding to districts with higher rates of poverty, and less to those with greater property tax wealth. But the superintendents say the plan would only go so far. Most of them are also calling for Illinois to keep income tax rates where they are, instead of letting them sunset as scheduled.