Half Gymnasium Turnout At West Carroll School Funding Town Hall - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Half Gymnasium Turnout At West Carroll School Funding Town Hall


The West Carroll School District eliminated 12 positions last month to close a budget deficit, cutting a popular music instructor.

That led one parent in particular to look for answers on her own.

Julie Bickelhaupt's search led to a town hall meeting.

Filling up half the middle school gym with parents wasn't her first goal.

She just wanted to find a way to save the music teacher.

The song she found though, troubles her.

Many school districts are singing the blues because of state budget cuts.

So she wants lawmakers to change the tune.

"The problem is much bigger than West Carroll, yes we have our own individual problems, but the lack of funding we're receiving from Illinois is making our initial problem even larger," says Julie Bickelhaupt.

The West Carroll mom was frustrated with her school board's decision to cut a music instructor last month. She has three children in the district, a third grader and two sixth graders. She worries their educations will only get worse.

"It may be the whole music program this year, it might be the athletic program next year, football, basketball, and everything that goes along with that," says Bickelhaupt.

The cuts hurt just about every district in Illinois. The state board of education says it needs 875 million dollars next year to give schools 100 percent funding. The governor has proposed cutting current funding by 300 million dollars.

"We need to do something to make it important, and taking away funding, it's not making it a top priority," says parent Kim McLuckie.

State representative Jim Sacia says the state is in a fiscal crisis, and the problem is simple.

"We don't know how to quit spending," says Sacia.

School leaders and parents asked pointed questions of Sacia, and his colleague senator Tim Bivins. Why is transportation funding being cut further? Why do Chicago schools get more state money per student? Why isn't Illinois giving students what they deserve? Besides money, Sacia says education isn't a hot button issue in Springfield like guns or gay marriage.

"You can bring people out of the woodwork for hot button issues, why they aren't there on education, I wish I could answer that."

A political reality Bickelhaupt hopes this meeting and others will change.

"We all need to speak up, one voice is a small voice but a lot of voices talking to a lot of representatives, will get us a lot further."

Bickelhaupt wants to have another town hall meeting with two state lawmakers that could not make Thursday's meeting.

She says the conversation about education funding simply can't go away.

The West Carroll school board has more difficult decisions facing it.

The board is discussing closing its school building in Thomson to find more savings.