There is little doubt that Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 is on the minds of many in our area. Issues of school closings, consolidation and realignment affect families, teachers, and students on such a personal level that contentiousness is quite often unavoidable. This case is no exception.
In 2006 the decision was made by referendum that District 210 build two new high schools based on a high projection of revenue growth, many believed it was a prudent decision that would prepare the area for the future. The measure passed via referendum with over 60% approval and seemed to set the district on a solid path. Unfortunately, population and enrollment never met these expectations and the district is now operating all four schools well under capacity.
Now, due to the district’s unsustainable building footprint hard decisions will need to be made. These are decisions by the local school board, and my colleagues and I in Springfield have never weighed in on them and do not intend to.
For the upcoming fiscal year, there will be a modest increase in state funding thanks to a strong push by Governor Rauner. With the State’s fiscal woes, it’s remarkable that funding didn’t drop. This component of the budget has already been signed into law and has brought some stability to Illinois schools. It is my hope that with further reforms, reforms I fully support, Illinois will have even more to put into education in future years.
This aside, I empathize with District 210 for their fiscal situation; just as I empathize with our local taxpayers who shoulder a tremendous burden supporting our schools. I am hopeful they are able to bring an amicable resolution to this situation.
For my part, I will work to ensure equitable and fair changes to the school funding formula that will optimize Illinois students’ opportunities for success. I desperately want to see a property tax freeze, but that freeze needs to be accompanied by the elimination of hundreds of educational mandates that drive up the cost of running our local schools. There needs to be a comprehensive reform package, which is why I have stood with the Governor in demanding true property tax reform.
I am always available to answer questions about state government for those with questions and would welcome people to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.