April 8, 2010
Top school administrators from throughout the state met today at Morgan Park High School in Chicago to discuss the impact of the state’s proposed cuts to education.
Led by the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) and the Large Unit District Association of Illinois (LUDA), the school leaders discussed how the state’s proposed education budget will fundamentally impact education, as well as how delayed state payments are impacting individual districts.
Concerns about the governor’s proposed education budget run high among the school chiefs. Many of their districts have already had to notify teachers of possible staffing cuts unless state lawmakers act to preserve school funding.
Dr. Brent Clark of the IASA cited his organization’s recent statewide survey that found the state will shed more than 20,000 school jobs if the governor’s proposed budget is left unchanged.
“The scope of the proposed cuts is unprecedented,” Dr. Clark said. “We are all facing hard times and Illinois is in a very challenging position, but the extent of these cuts is drastic. Schools throughout our state will be forced to part ways with record numbers of teachers if nothing is done. This will hurt our students.”
More than 20 superintendents arrived in Chicago from throughout the state to discuss how the proposed cuts will affect their individual districts and to share ideas on how to manage through the funding crisis. Some districts at the meeting face deeper cuts than others, but each superintendent echoed the same sentiment: students will be greatly impacted by the proposed cuts. Together, the administrators at the meeting represent almost 700,000 students across the state.
Elgin District U46, the second largest school district in Illinois, is projected to layoff more than 1,000 teachers and support staff, Indian Prairie (Naperville and Aurora) is preparing to cut more than 145 staffers, and Kankakee may be forced to increase class sizes.
These cuts are further exacerbated by the state’s delayed payments to schools. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the state is behind on more than $890 million in payments to districts across the state.
As the largest district in Illinois, Chicago is facing the largest deficit of all – up to $1 billion – and, with the current proposed state budget cuts, may have to lay off more than 3,000 teachers and make painful programmatic cuts.
Dr. Diane Rutledge of the LUDA echoed Dr. Clark’s sentiments and reiterated the need for help from the state. “Lawmakers will return to Springfield next week and it is critical that they act now to hold education funding steady this year,” she said. The group pledged future action as the year unfolds.
Among the districts represented at Thursday’s meeting were: Belvidere, Alton, Aurora, Midlothian, Champaign, Chicago, Crete-Monee, Elgin, Joliet, Kankakee, Lake Forest, Park Ridge, Naperville, Palatine, Peoria, Rantoul, Olympia Fields, Rockford, Springfield, Romeoville, Waukegan, Galesburg, Moline and St. Charles.
Chicago Public Schools serves 417,855 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.