* You may not like Senate President John Cullerton’s idea to withhold school funding until school funding reform is completed, but it’s most definitely putting pressure on legislators to end the impasse…
HARRISBURG — The economic hard times that have hit this Illinois coal town are particularly visible inside its 113-year-old high school, where cracks in the walls and holes in the ceiling go unfixed and paint is peeling off the purple lockers lining the hallways.
But lately a greater worry is weighing on Superintendent Mike Gauch: that he’ll have to close the doors. He’s among scores of school officials who face this prospect as Illinois lawmakers’ epic fight over a state budget threatens to spill into summer and jeopardize the education of several hundred thousand students.
Unthinkable even a few months ago, the possibility of the impasse extending to a second year and shutting down school systems has grown stronger in recent weeks. If it happens, it would be the most traumatic consequence of a fight between the state’s Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, and Democrats who run the legislature, and mark a new low for political dysfunction in the nation’s fifth-largest state.
“It scares me to death,” says Gauch, who estimates that without state funds his district of about 2,100 students could remain open until November or December, at best. Other superintendents say their schools won’t make it that long. […]
“Had I not seen that with my own eyes I wouldn’t believe it either,” said Jeff Fritchtnitch, superintendent in the Altamont school district. “For the first time in 30 years (in education), I think this can happen.”
What we’ve seen since June will pale in comparison to what we’ll see if K-12 schools aren’t funded.