The state has not made its first general aid payment of the budget year to District 87. The missing money totals nearly $500,000.
District 87’s school board on Wednesday expressed concern over cash flow after Gov. Bruce Rauner's recent amendatory veto of the school funding bill and the resulting stalemate in Springfield. District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly said legislators must overcome political differences for the sake of the state.
“I’m a resident of the state of Illinois, and as a resident of the state of Illinois I want to see this state do very well. Part of that is having great public schools. You cannot do that if you choose not to fund them appropriately,” Reilly said.
Reilly said other districts could have deeper troubles and even closures. However, he also said he is confident District 87 is strong enough the lack of aid will not force schools to close or programs to end. Unit 5 officials have said they’d potentially have to close schools before the end of the year if an agreement is not reached in Springfield.
Meanwhile, the district announced it has come to a tentative agreement with the Bloomington Education Association teachers union on a new three-year contract. If approved, teachers would receive a 1 percent pay raise in year one, and 1.4 percent in years two and three.
In other business Wednesday, District 87’s school board approved a financial plan to pay for the new high school cultural wing and artificial turf field. The board approved $8 million in borrowing for the addition and remodel.
Reilly said it is more necessary than ever to make improvements, and it will not affect taxpayers.
“We’re committed to not increasing the (property) tax rate. Yes, we extend the debt a little bit, but we’re managing it in a way we’re not increasing the tax rate,” Reilly said.
Reilly also said the school board wants to show that District 87 is committed to enhancing public education, especially in times where help from state legislators is lacking.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.