PEORIA - Part of Governor Quinn's plan to get the state's finances back on track includes steep cuts to education spending. He said he will cut $400 million from schools across the state.
The Governor said he has to take more away from schools to help pay off billions of dollars in unpaid bills and the unfunded pension system.
Local educators said they have serious concerns. They said it's frustrating and disappointing that our legislators are putting the burden on our kids.
District 150 Treasurer Dr. Dave Kinney said, "We are addressing our financial needs but they are just making it much more difficult as every day goes by."
Kinney said it's unfair that education will take another hit. He said state aid is supposed to cover 80 percent of the district's budget, and the state already owes millions to Peoria schools. He said, "Over a three year period in state aid alone, we're looking at a 17 million dollar loss. It's just we've worked hard to do some things with our finances here in the district."
Now Kinney said he's faced with bridging a gap that continues to grow. The district has already closed buildings and cut staff. He said he's not sure what's next. He said, "I just find it a bit ironic that he's very clear as well as legislative that we can't put this on the taxpayers but let's shove it down onto the school district?"
For Karen Donlan, a teacher of 31 years, she said more cut backs are devastating. "First of all you just think, kind of devastation. What am I going to do now?"
She said teachers are doing their best to meet the same high standards but with fewer supplies and fewer resources. "It's frustrating. It's very frustrating but you're there for the kids and you do what you can for them."
Kinney said he doesn't have specifics yet on how much more money the district may lose and what else may be on the chopping block, but he said lawmakers need to think of the young people who are suffering because of the state's severe debt. "I get where they're coming from but somewhere here we need to figure out a path towards a little brighter future, because you can't do this on the backs of the kids and the classrooms."
Kinney is still working on a budget for next year. He said the district will have to find a way to raise its revenues in an attempt to make ends meet.