Unit Five Increasingly Strained From Budget Standoff

Apr 12, 2017

Unit Five has nearly run out of reserves because the state owes the district $10 million for transportation, free and reduced lunches, and special education.
Credit Staff / WGLT

The head of the Unit Five School District says he is pushing the panic button firmly about state aid payments. Speaking during GLT's Sound Ideas, Superintendent Mark Daniel said the district will run out of money about the end of the spring legislative session.

"We will not be able to have a balanced budget. So we will be in deficit spending: My great concern is if there is no state budget then how are they going to make payments in the future," said Daniel.

The state is now nearly a full year behind in Unit Five's categorical grants for transportation costs, free and reduced lunch, and special education. Daniel said that's $10 million.
     
Because of that the district will have to pay interest costs and hope the state eventually comes through with that money, said Daniel.

"How do you keep doors open if you don't have the revenue to spend on the expenses that you have? And, as you know, we've reduced about every place we can," said Daniel.

Daniel said the longer the budget deadlock goes on the less likely it is the state will be able to catch up with past payments for transportation, free and reduced lunches, and special education. Daniel said some districts will likely fail if that happens.     
    
Daniel said he is also worried about proposals to change the school funding formula. For instance, he said one proposal would leave Unit Five needing $37 million more per year than it now receives from the state. That same package would give $34 million more to the wealthy suburb of Naperville.

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