Urbana District 116 urges lawmakers to act quickly on education funding

Urbana District 116 urges lawmakers to act quickly on education funding. (WCCU)

Students in Urbana School District 116 go back to school the week of August 21 and district officials say it will open its doors to students, with or without an education bill from the state.

School officials say there are concerned that the state still hasn't agreed on education reform, adding that if they don't see payment soon, they will have to pull the money from somewhere else.

“The state still owes us over $3 million from last fiscal year,” Owen said.

That number will continue to increase after August 10.

"What we would do if we do expend all of our reserves is we would go to the board and look for tax anticipation bonds, which would allow us to basically borrow against anticipated tax revenues from next fiscal year until the state can get its act together and start paying us money,” Owen said.

Lawmakers are working on education reform that would change the school funding formula.

"School districts that are situated in property wealthy areas are able to collect more property taxes at a lower tax rate than school districts that aren't,” Owen said. “So that creates a massive inequity in what the per pupil funding is across the state."

About 60 percent of students in District 116 qualify for fee waivers and the free lunch program.

The bill proposed by the State Senate introduces a new formula that would better fund districts with a higher percentage of low-income students, like District 116.

"Either through their parent interactions or with administrators or how the administrators have to change the services they have to change the services they deliver to the students,” Urbana High School Parent Teacher Student Association President said. “So I just ask them to just keep that in mind, that everyone's watching, including our children."

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