Goreville Schools maintain programs despite cuts
As Southern Illinois public schools face another rounds of cuts in state aid, losing as much as 11 percent for the 2012-13 school year, Goreville Schools continues to fight to maintain programs already cut at many other rural schools.
Superintendent of Goreville Community Unit School District #1, Dr. Steve Webb, said it was no surprise the sate would again cut funding and prepared for the worst by instituting cutbacks last year.
Webb said Gov. Pat Quinn has announced his intentions for cuts over the past two years, currently cutting both education services and Department of Children and Family Services drastically, and he expects further cuts in the future.
“We anticipate an operating deficit of approximately $144,544 this year as a consequence of not receiving the 2010 funding level,” said Webb in an email to the Gazette Tuesday morning. “In fact, this year we will have received approximately $374,506 less in state aid than we did in the 2010-2011 school year.”
Before the end of the 2012 school year Goreville Schools were listed as financially sound receiving high marks for their budgeting balances that helps create proper reserves and provides for 180 days of operating cash on hand. As other schools in Southern Illinois are reporting having to “dip into reserves” to balance their budgets, Goreville Schools are part of a growing community looking at every angle in keeping those reserves and its valued programs intact.
“I am very proud that we still offer a great humanities program in the arts as well as a state ranked vocational program,” said Webb, adding that many rural schools have already dropped such programs due to the funding shortfall. “We as adults should be focusing our efforts on adding opportunities for our children rather than looking for ways to cut back on those opportunities.”
In a Sep. 23 article by The Southern staff writer Stephen Rickerl, several Southern Illinois schools were listed as looking to borrow both internally from other budgets and externally from banks just to keep the doors open. Harrisburg District 3 Superintendent Dennis Smith conceded his district is likely to face borrowing from banks as early as January reporting November as the last month the district can make payroll and pay its bills. The new round of cuts meant a loss of nearly $800,000 to the district this year with the article reporting, “Since 2011, Harrisburg’s general state aid has dropped more than $1.6 million.”
The outlook for other schools listed in the article painted additionally gloom forecasts for Southern Illinois’ public schools. Frankfort CUSD 168 has lost approximately $1.1 million in general state aid since 2011, according to the report. Anna-Jonesboro CHSD 81 faces a loss of an estimated $230,000 in state aid this year and Marion CUSD, which has been under a budget crunch for the past few years reducing a $3.67 million deficit through a budget reduction plan, faces the loss of another $1.1 million in state aid this year.
The latest rounds of cuts continues to add uncertainty to future financial planning as the state is likely to trim more budgets next year.
“It is very difficult to plan when about half of our funding comes from the state and they have been very inconsistent with sending us what they told us they were going to send us,” said Dr. Webb, adding he suspects the same difficulties are facing all state agencies.
Webb remains positive in keeping Goreville Schools’ programs intact for as long as possible but admits that eventually, “with unrealistic federal and state testing requirements and limited funding, schools will have no choice but to cut those programs that are not mandated by the government.”