Buffalo Grove Countryside

District: State is late on payments

Thursday, July 29, 2010

As the Illinois Legislature continues to haggle over the state budget, Kildeer Countryside School District 96 is feeling the brunt of state fund payments left unpaid.

Several months behind on payments to schools, the state made its monthly October 2009 payment to the district on July 1 and 2, nine months behind schedule.

State funding for each month past October has been withheld because of the state budget troubles, leaving the Buffalo Grove-based district with its only option, to keep a tally of the unpaid funding. So far, that tally has reached just over $2.1 million, a figure that has left many District 96 School Board members frustrated.

"This is our money," board member Victoria Juster said, "and all we can do is keep track."

With the district's schools running on a $40 million budget, the money owed to the district accounts for more than 5 percent of the total budget. With a large chunk effectively cut from the district's budget, the schools are being left in a sizable bind, said Jon Hitcho, District 96's assistant superintendent for business.

"This is hurting us," Hitcho said. "We need every penny we can get."

Funding for programs
The funding had been set aside for specific programs that the district is now still running, but without state funding for the past several months. These specific areas include programs associated with special education, transportation, reading improvement and bilingual education.

Despite the funding standstill, Hitcho said he expects the district to be able to carry out its programs and responsibilities to the best of its abilities without putting the schools at a disastrous risk.

The budget confusion and lack of state funding has led many surrounding districts to defer state payments. While District 96 will not take this course of action, the district will move forward with its budget in anticipation that the funds will not be properly disbursed anytime soon, Hitcho said.

"They really don't have any money," Hitcho said of the state. "We're hoping that the funds come through, but we're not counting on them."