To The Herald-Whig:
Last year a group of superintendents sent a letter to this paper outlining our concerns with education funding in Illinois and no K-12 spending plan.
It is now one year later, and we are facing the same issue. The rhetoric is heating up to not pass the K-12 education spending plan. The thinking is that this could leverage a budget in Illinois. In the meantime, it will do harm to school districts.
The Illinois state government has failed to pass a budget. The Illinois state government has failed to pass a fair school-funding formula. The Illinois state government has failed to pay its obligation to Illinois public schools.
The state boasted about a funding increase to schools one year ago. In fact, this brought us to 2007 levels, and now it has failed to pay us even that. The state owes QPS about $3 million earmarked for transportation, special education and early childhood.
Our teachers and administrators work hard meeting the needs of students and meeting state mandates with regard to public education. Our finance team has paid every bill. We have cut expenses. The board has worked with the community to govern the school district, provide world-class facilities and meet every state compliance issue.
The district has done its part and exceeded the expectation. This will be difficult in the future. The cost of living continues to increase, and the state of Illinois continues to fail children.
There are compromises and solutions. The state needs revenue, pension reform, a fair funding formula, property tax reform and worker's compensation reform. I have seen reforms that could move us in the right direction for both parties. It will not be perfect, but it could be one step in the right direction.
Quincy Public Schools faces challenges. We have a teacher shortage, and we have to compete for the best and brightest teachers with schools that pay 10 to 25 percent more than we do. We need technology. We need textbooks. We need to retain the great programs we have like instructional practices, fine arts and athletics.
If we had a fair funding formula and a state that paid its bills, we could put together a long-term plan to meet those needs. We have a caring board and sharp people in our district. The problem is we have a weight around our neck that is dragging us down. It is called our Illinois state government.
Quincy Public Schools