Though its been passed by legislators and signed by the governor, a bill authorizing an increase in state aid to Illinois school districts has yet to produce any increased cash in local districts coffers.
But, thankfully, that aid is coming.
When it arrives, the $400 per student per year hike will represent the first increase in school funding since 1985. For the Vandalia district, that will mean an additional $250,000 to $300,000 per year to educate our children. Our per-pupil annual funding now stands at $5,734.
Vandalia Superintendent Rich Well said this week that hes been told that the increase will be retroactive to the beginning of the current fiscal year last July 1 and that the new funding will be added onto former payment levels to make up the full-year increase before the current year ends on June 30.
Well rightly said that the district has caught a couple breaks this year, with voters’ passage of a referendum to get the district out of a deficit position and now the increased state funding.
The task ahead for the district is to make wise decisions about how to best spend the new funding to improve the education of our children. Where are we currently falling short of our educational goals? Which categories of our students arent receiving the educational opportunities that they need? (For instance, are we doing enough to fully challenge our gifted students?) Are there programs we currently arent offering that would better prepare our students to thrive after graduation?
With this influx of new funding, the district has an opportunity to contemplate issues such as these. We must use that opportunity wisely.