Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Kim Boyd
Illinois is currently in a financial crisis. A crisis so massive many school districts are getting less than half the funds from the state they need. Many schools all over the state of Illinois are struggling just to keep the doors open, according to Reboot Illinois. This issue has existed a long time and it has just keep building up and up like a mountain.
“This June when my kids left school for the summer they didn`t learn who their new teacher would be. They were sent home with a letter (saying) they didn`t know (whether or not) school would be open come September,” Natalie Naris of Chicago said at a Vandalia press conference June 29. “My kids deserve for the state to keep their promise.”
Many students, teachers and parents from across the state attended the press conference to support restructuring Illinois educational funding, not a stopgap budget.
Students protesters walked on Vandalia`s pavements carrying signs saying things like “education matters most” or “save our students.” About 180 local school districts united, demanding the state find some way to resolve the financial crisis.
Educators, parents, and community leaders all spoke against the effect has had the political clash had on students and schools.
Carrie Buscher of Brownstown, an elementary school teacher and mother of three elementary age children, said, “I want people to understand education matters for all kids, it`s not fair to the kids. Financially it`s the state`s obligation to run schools. School districts do a good job keeping a budget — it`s the state`s fault.”
However not everyone agrees with her. David Boyd, of Springfield says “many school districts overpay teachers and overspend in other areas. It`s partly the school`s fault they are losing so much money that they are struggling simply to keep the doors open to children.”
Teachers and parents are not the only people upset about schools failing. Vandalia students Samantha Miller, Amelia Smith, and Lanee Mcnary said, “we play basketball together and we used to have bus transportation to sporting events and it`s all been taken away from us. If school closes our sports season will be cut. Sports are not the only thing that has been cut; many schools have cut other extracurricular activities.”
Currently no one knows a solution to this very important issue, but most hope somehow the schools and the state will get their act together.