Though it still must be signed by the governor, legislation approved last week by Illinois legislators would mark the first increase in the states per-pupil education funding since 1985.
That $400 increase per student per year brings the states annual base funding level to $5,734 per student. For the Vandalia Community School District, that means an increase in state funding of about $250,000, according to Superintendent Rich Well.
The bill also allows districts to receive a higher rate to help cover special education staff salaries. Districts will receive an additional $1,000 for each certified teacher and $700 for each non-certified staff member.
Its very encouraging, Well said. Nothings getting any cheaper, and things like gas, electric, diesel, food and other supplies have all gone up. That has put a lot of districts in financial hardship. This will relieve a little of the pressure.
However, Well isnt planning to go out and spend the money until he sees a pattern of the increased funding actually materializing.
Older superintendents are saying that we shouldnt get too excited about this yet, Well told The Leader-Union earlier this week.
We never know for sure if it going to come to us. By next fiscal year, well be able to recognize a pattern of what things are doing. Hopefully, there wont be decreases in other state funding to offset this increase.
He also said that some have suggested that the state may not fulfill all 24 of its scheduled twice-monthly state aid payments as a way to save money allocated in this new funding plan. There is also some question of when the increased per pupil funding will start whether it will be retroactive to the beginning of this fiscal year or not.
Once a track record is established with the increases, Well said, the district can start looking at what this will allow us to do to improve the educational process.
The last thing I want to do is get cocky with our money when were not sure how things are going to shake out, he said. Were a year or two away from putting together some plans for adding to our educational programs.