More than 200 people jammed the Algonquin Village Hall to urge legislators to take action to reform the state's school funding system.
Ill. Rep. Rosemary Kurtz (R-Lake in the Hills) and Sen. Pamela Althoff
(R-Crystal Lake) hosted a room packed with residents there to hear ways to address the
school funding crisis in Illinois. Residents from throughout the area have
been hit hard by school district cuts that have resulted from the "double
whammy" of property tax caps and anemic state funding.
District 300 Superintendent Arndt talked about recent cuts in their district,
including laying off 300 people for next year, raising class size from the upper
20s to the mid 30s of students per classroom. This will result in 12
percent fewer teachers, 13 percent fewer teacher assistants and 15
percent fewer administrators. In addition, all administrator salaries
will be frozen. Neighboring District 158 in Huntley is in deficit, along
with 80 percent of the state's districts, and is suffering from dependence
on the local property tax to fund its growing student population.
Network 21 member Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and
Budget Accountability laid out the state's dire fiscal crisis heading into next
year. While the Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed budget is balanced, many
of the fixes are one-time only and will require structural reform next year.
Speakers at the meeting urged residents to take action, including joining the
Network 21: Quality Schools for Stronger Communities coalition.
Other suggested actions included:
Register to vote and VOTE!
Host Saturday morning legislative forums
Continue working with Village officials regarding impact fees
Write, call, e-mail or fax legislators
Support local district efforts to form political action
Applaud local legislators with letters to the editor, etc., when they
vote against the wishes of their respective party leaders, but in support of
the best interest of the community.