Education

Town hall targets school finance

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 15, 2017 10:30 pm Updated: Apr. 17, 2017 6:43 am

QUINCY -- Quincy Superintendent Roy Webb hopes a Monday afternoon town hall meeting provides "situational awareness" about school finance struggles to the Quincy community.

"Our board really wants the community to know where we are financially and that we're struggling a bit, and a lot of that is due to the state's inability to pay its portion," Webb said.

The state owes the district $2.7 million in reimbursement for transportation, transportation for special education, special education personnel and the early childhood program.

Webb said the district has received one payment this fiscal year, which actually was the last payment from the 2015-16 year. It has yet to receive anything from the 2016-17 allocation.

"The people of Quincy need to understand we're inadequately funded by the state," Webb said. "We pay a significant amount of local dollars through local tax money, but the state's not paying their share."

The town hall meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday at the School Board office, 1416 Maine, is one of several planned in the coming month by the Fix the Formula Illinois campaign. The campaign's goal is to win fair school funding in the state. Webb and Galesburg Superintendent Ralph Grimm will be the featured speakers.

Both were involved in the Vision 2020 effort targeting ways Illinois treats education, including assessment, funding, curriculum, professional development and teacher shortages. Webb was part of the assessment work, while Grimm was involved in finance to "set up a system best for kids."

The campaign says Illinois students cannot wait another year for legislators to pass an adequate and fair education funding bill for all students.

House Bill 2808, sponsored by state Rep. Will Davis, D-East Hazel Crest, presents an evidence-based funding model and ensures no school district loses money and the neediest districts get new funding first, takes local resources into account and closes funding gaps between districts.

The campaign wants the town hall meetings to provide community members and advocates with a better understanding of the current funding system, to explain a solution, and to help advocates call on their local lawmakers to get a funding bill passed this legislative session.

Webb said Quincy is fortunate to have fund balances to handle the shortfall in state funds, but those are dwindling.

"I think we'll be able to finish this year with using those fund balances and not have to do any borrowing. Going forward, we wouldn't be able to go too far unless we continue to get some of our state money," he said. "At some point we're going to be in serious trouble if the state doesn't start paying its bills."

ON THE WEB

For more information about the Fix the Formula Illinois campaign, go to fundingilfuture.org/fixtheformulaillinois.

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