State board says millions should go back to schools

AP Graphic

About 600 school districts will benefit from $97 million that the Illinois State Board of Education has approved for those with the greatest funding needs.

Nearly all of the districts identified in the plan as eligible for funding will get about three-quarters of the money that had been cut under the budget deal signed into law last month by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“We’re still missing $81,000,” said Brian Mentzer, assistant superintendent of Belleville District 201. “It’s really just a survival plan for the rest of the year. I’m thankful for it, I appreciate it, but it’s not a substantial enough to create any type of systematic change for us.”

Mentzer said the district is still owed, from various sources including the state, about $2.2 million for the current fiscal year; and about $3.6 million total, which includes previous fiscal years.

Collinsville Superintendent Robert Green said, “if that is true, that’s good news.”

“At least it’s better news than losing $425,000. But it won’t be new money, I think that’s pretty clear,” Green said.

The funds being returned range from a few thousand to tens of millions of dollars. Chicago Public Schools will receive the largest chunk of the money, about $33 million.

Chicago is among 32 districts that are getting 95 percent of their cut funding restored. Four metro-east schools are getting 95 percent of the cut funding restored. Another 546 districts will get 73.6 percent of their funding restored, including 25 in the metro-east area. The remaining 278 school districts, including two in the metro-east, were deemed ineligible.