February 26th, 2016
During past months, I have received many questions (and concerns) about the fiscal uncertainty at the state level and its potential impact on Grant Park School District #6. Without doubt, the state of Illinois is experiencing fiscal problems and still does not have an approved state budget for the current fiscal year. Unfortunately, as a result of this stalemate, many school systems worry about future state payments. Frankly, I welcome those questions and will share the answers I have provided related to Grant Park #6.
Has state funding been cut? Public schools continue to receive General State Aid funding at the current time. However, for the past five years, it has been "prorated" (reduced) by anywhere from 8%-13% per year. For example, for the current school year, this "proration" equates to Grant Park School District #6 losing over $50,000 in state funding. Also, district superintendents are concerned with the growing number of "backlog" bills facing the state and the ability to pay their fiscal obligations to public schools.
What happened to the ACT Test for juniors? According to current legislation, the state of Illinois requires (and pays for) the administration of a "college readiness" assessment to all high school juniors. In the past, the state of Illinois had a contract with ACT to fulfill this requirement. However, moving forward, the Illinois State Board of Education has awarded the contract to a different exam, called the SAT. Due to the lack of a state budget and appropriated line item, there is no funding for the ACT or SAT at the current time. That is both unfortunate and unacceptable, as for many students the ACT/SAT provides admission into college, rewards their dedication to a rigorous curriculum, and fulfills post-secondary opportunities/dreams. Thankfully, our Board of Education recognized the importance of our students participating in this assessment and will reimburse any junior desiring to take the ACT this year. As you may know, we are extremely proud of recent student performance on the ACT and have been recognized by both the state and national publications for this high performance.
Is District #6 ok? Yes, our school system is financially stable and thus far, has weathered the negative economic conditions in the state of Illinois. We closely monitor our revenues versus expenditures, as well as our monthly cash flow. In fact, we have experienced balanced budgets in each of the last four years. As a result, the Illinois State Board of Education has designated Grant Park #6 with the highest financial ranking available (Financial Recognition).
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Dr. John Palan
Superintendent, Grant Park #6