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The Illinois Budget Crisis and Your Fieldcrest Schools

Monday, June 12, 2017 - Posted 10:14:08 AM by _
Dear parents, students, staff, and community members: 

The Legislature and Governor of the State of Illinois failed to reach an agreement on a state budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, and the budget impasse continues in Illinois. You may soon hear speculation about whether schools will open in the fall from a number of school districts both in the area and around the state. I want to first assure parents, students and staff that Fieldcrest schools will likely be open to start the school year. However, there a many questions and concerns in the state regarding what happens as the new state fiscal year and new school budget year open July 1.

The lack of a state appropriation for K-12 education for the 2017-2018 school year will result in dire consequences for many districts, and our district is not exempt. For Fieldcrest CUSD 6, state funding comprises about one-third of all revenue for the Education fund, and approximately one-third of all revenues in all funds. It represents about 75% of revenue for the Transportation Fund.

The district has few fund reserves remaining after several years of state proration of General State Aid and the current year's failure to pay 75% of mandated categorical payments (special education and transportation reimbursements). The district receives 65-70% of its Education Fund revenues from property taxes, however, and will be able to open school in the fall. However, the ongoing dysfunction at the capitol in Springfield ultimately will result in an even heavier weight of the cost of educating our students to local property taxpayers, and for our district, may lead to closure of our schools at some point during the 2017-2018 school year if there is no K-12 budget passed to support our students. The Board of Education and I will be studying various scenarios to determine what is possible in order to keep our schools open as long as possible.

In the meantime, the top priority for our elected officials must be to enact a budget which includes adequate funds for public schools. The legislature has "fixed" the funding formula and sent the bill to the Governor's desk, but without a budget and adequate appropriations to support the funding formula, all is for naught. Enacting a budget which includes adequate funds for public schools, along with the evidence-based funding formula which the Legislature has passed , is necessary to ensure schools across the state not only open on time in August, but also to ensure they stay open for the entire 2017-2018 school year.

Toxic climates such as the one present in Springfield often lead citizens to avoid getting involved in the maelstrom of dysfunction. Yet, as taxpayers and concerned citizens, now is the time for engagement. Contact your elected officials to let them know your feelings about the current "state of our state." Your Board of Education and I will continue to monitor this situation. We will develop contingency plans to respond to the prospect of an ongoing budget impasse into the fall and beyond. The Board is committed to opening school in August of 2017, and educating our children as long as possible with the funds provided by the taxpayers of the district.

Thank you for your continued support of our schools. Sincerely,

Dr. Daniel L Oakley, Superintendent