School Officials Call Potential Cuts 'Devastating'
As the state legislature threatens additional cuts to local schools, education officials are firing back. Some say taking more money away from students would be morally reprehensible.
Local districts are already anticipating getting less in state money than what they're technically supposed to by law. They've gotten used to it over past years, as the state struggles to make ends meet. Now, some lawmakers say an additional billion dollars could be lacking if the income-tax hike is allowed to expire. The state superintendent says some districts won't be able to make it through next school year if that happens. He calls the potential cuts "devastating" to school districts.
Interim superintendent for Springfield Schools, Bob Hill, agrees further cuts would hit schools hard. "Frankly if that's the real position the General Assembly’s going to take … the citizens of the state really ought to seriously consider recalling the whole outfit. It's just absolutely unconscionable to think that the lawmakers … of this state are considering cuts further," says Hill. He adds, "Any (lawmakers) that could participate in that activity and ever utter any claim to hold the public's interest in their hands, and the interest of the children of the state, are lying through their teeth." The Springfield district is facing about a $5.5 million dollar deficit. That money would largely be accounted for if the state were to fund at the level it's technically supposed to.
Meanwhile, the state board of education is asking for a $1 billion increase in funding, even though a preliminary revenue blueprint shows the potential billion dollar cut from the state. There's talk at the Capitol about changing the school funding formula, although that would seem unlikely in an election year. One proposal would put most of the state's education funds in the same pot and distribute it according to districts' needs.