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Dark Fiscal Clouds Hover Over New School Year

Brett Blume
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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) –  The new school year is getting off on a sour note in school districts throughout the region.

In Edwardsville, schools superintendent Dr. Ed Hightower recently informed parents and teachers that the district will face an additional $700,000 reduction in state funding for the 2011-12 school year.

He said the district had been planning for a possible General State Aid reduction of approximately $400,000, then school officials were just notified of the additional cuts.

“And we anticipate that these funding problems will continue for the next two years,” Hightower told KMOX News.  “So these are difficult financial times.”

He added that for now, any discussion of raising taxes to make up for these losses is off the table for discussion.

“We’re going to have to continue to ask for shared sacrifices,” Hightower was quoted at a recent school board meeting.  “We cannot go back to the public and ask at this point for an increase.  Secondly, our expenditures cannot continue to exceed revenues, because the revenues are not there.”

Hightower can take small comfort in the fact that his district is not alone.

The state of Illinois is running six months behind in payments and has slashed a total of $230 million in education funding in the last year alone.

Education officials already know that the state will completely eliminate the June 20, 2012 payment to all school districts and reduce the June 10th payments as well.

In the meantime, Dr. Ed Hightower said they’ll continue working on their end to find more places to cut expenditures, but there are no attractive options left.

“The fat has been cut,” he said.  “We are now cutting into the core programs which will impact kids negatively.”

 

 

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