State aid for public schools is down across the state of Illinois, according to a new study conducted by Voices for Illinois Children. The report, “Illinois Kids Count 2013: Moving Policy, Making Progress,” assessed early childhood and elementary education, healthcare, and funding for the state, and was presented today at a press conference at the Lessie Bates Davis Family Development Center in East St. Louis.
Among its findings, the study revealed that Illinois receives the lowest percentage of funding for public schools in the nation, at 28%. Even though per pupil East St. Louis school district receives more in State and Federal funding than other districts in the county, they still have to close a $17 million dollar deficit for next school year. Superintendent Arthur Culver feels that the solution lies in budget cuts – and community support. “67% of the districts are in deficit spending. So I think as districts like East St Louis work together and collaborate with one another, and then we collaborate with our legislators I really think that they’ll have the will to make the changes that are necessary,” he says. “I think the legislators are going to realize, to really fix it long term, you have to change the way money is allocated to the school district throughout the state. The funding formula has to be changed.”
Though the school district received a $9 million dollar grant, it will only be enough to cover this school year’s payroll, he says. “I know that the state can’t make up all of that gap,” he says. “What we’re trying to do is make those cuts but try to keep the impact as far away from the classroom as possible.”