Illinois schools are getting ready for another budget hit after the new year.
Local districts say they are getting word that their last two state payments for requirements such as special education and school buses likely aren’t coming.
Jennifer Hamm, assistant superintendent for finance at Galesburg schools, said she’s heard it before.
The Illinois State Board of Education, Hamm said, is quietly letting schools know that the last two mandated categorical payments likely aren’t coming. Hamm says the state expects a ‘budgetary issue’ after the new year.
“For Galesburg, that’s approximately $950,000. So, we’re looking at nearly $1 million worth of revenue not coming in,” Hamm said.
A State Board of Education spokesperson would only say “ISBE has processed and issued to the Illinois Comptroller’s office the voucher payments for mandated categorical reimbursements to school districts, in accordance with statute.”
But that doesn’t answer the question about whether schools will receive their final two payments.
This is the eighth year, according to Hamm, the state of Illinois has shortchanged her district.
Canceling the last two payments not only leaves districts on the hook for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in costs. Hamm said local schools also are now responsible for almost all of the special education and transportation needs in their communities.
“These are services that are required by federal law,” Hamm explained. “These are services that we don’t have the option of providing. We can’t say ‘Well, we didn’t receive our reimbursement this year. So we’re not going to provide 50 percent of special-education services.”
Hamm said her district budgeted for a full reimbursement last spring. It’s too late now to move money around.
— State not making payments for special education, school buses —