Back to school bash tempered by lack of school funding budget in Illinois

Published: Jul. 31, 2017 at 8:49 AM CDT
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The Rock Island-Milan school district held a back to school bash Sunday night.

The district opens doors to students on Thursday without access to state funding. District officials admit starting the school year without funding makes them nervous, but they say they are optimistic Springfield will find a way to ensure the first state checks arrive.

Parents and grandparents are nervous too. Sue Gordon raised her four children in Quad Cities schools. Now her grandchildren attend school in Rock Island. She says, “I think it’s a disgrace and I think it’s really sad that it’s come to this and I think they need to get their word down and quit messing around.” Gordon says she trusts the school officials and their fiscal responsibility, “I think we’re better off than many districts. I mean, you know, I think they do a good job managing their money as best they can. It’s just not quite enough you know.”

Mother Brenda Hudnall agrees, “I didn’t go to Rock Island schools so at first, I was a little hesitant when she started, but they have a really good community and everyone works really hard to make sure the school’s great for the kids.”

District officials say they have budgeted enough money to get the school year going. Superintendent of Rock Island-Milan Schools, Mike Oberhaus, says, “We have accumulated reserves that will allow us to operate without state funding for a few months, and we hope by then they’ll have it done, it not before.”

School officials want Illinois legislators to recognize the urgency for education funding approval.

School Board President Linda Dothard says, “The state of Illinois must fund our kids because if they don’t fund us, then our kids lose and that’s our message.” Dothard goes on to say, “I think everyone agrees on the shift in the way that funding will go to schools overall and so we hope that leadership and the rank and file can get together and come up with something pretty quickly.”

Gordon sums it up, “They need to get their education and be in the classroom and it can’t happen if they don’t have funding.”

Doors open in the Rock Island- Milan school district on Thursday, August 3rd to more than 6,000 students.

If funding is approved, the first check should arrive to Illinois schools before August 11th. The Illinois State Board of Education says the funding plan must be approved by August 3rd for schools receive payment on time.