Illinois families concerned about school budget crisis

After three days of a special session in Illinois, lawmakers and the governor still haven't reached a solution for funding schools.

BRIGHTON, ILL. - After three days of a special session to address education funding in Illinois, lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner still haven't reached a solution. On Monday, Democrats are expected to give the governor legislation known as Senate Bill 1. He's made it clear he won't sign the bill and would instead use his amendatory veto powers to rewrite it. Meanwhile, many families are worried.

It's been a good summer for the Robinson family and the Hopkins family, but the kids are ready to get back to school.

"I am excited to go back to school to see my friends," soon-to-be seventh grader Collin Robinson said.

They're enrolled in the Southwestern school district. Superintendent Brad Skertich says classes will begin in August as planned, but schools could close mid-year.

"March, April, and then we're done," said Lori Hopkins, who is a parent and former superintendent. "Without state funding."

There's still no budget for education in Illinois. That's what's causing so much concern.

"I really hope the school year lasts," Robinson said.

"As a parent, I am concerned for our kids and for our community," Hopkins said. "I'm really frustrated."

Several families in Bethalto and Staunton tell 5 On Your Side they're frustrated, too.

"I'm very concerned," Debbie Witsken said. "I feel like our students need to be guaranteed an education and they need to go to school and stay in school."

Dr. Jill Griffin, superintendent of Bethalto Community Unit School District #8, says districts across the state "are caught in the middle of a political nightmare" and says "it is time to end the games." Parents don't want to come up with solutions on their own.

"They are constantly bringing home fundraisers," Collin’s mom, Shelly Robinson, said. "They're always asking, 'Why do we have to do this? Why do we have to sell this?'"

"What I want to see is them making our kids a priority, making their education a priority," Witsken said.

"We count on it," Hopkins said. "We need it to happen and so my hope is that legislators hear this and hear the voices of the people and say, 'Let's do this.'"

The length of time school districts would remain open without state funding varies from district to district. It depends on how much money they have in reserves and the arrival of local property taxes.

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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