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ISBE: No schools have submitted plans to delay reopening

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* After reading innumerable horror stories about how some schools might not be able to reopen after summer break if the school funding formula issue isn’t resolved soon, I tried to find out if there were actually any such cases. As I told subscribers this morning, I couldn’t find a single school that planned on staying closed.

The following is an e-mail I received from the Illinois State Board of Education this afternoon after a communications mixup on Friday. Note the last line…

Rich,

I have attached a list of all school districts’ days cash on hand, according to the fiscal year 2017 School District Budget Plans submitted to ISBE in the fall of 2016. The budget plans indicated that at the end of fiscal year 2017, 401 districts would have fewer than 180 days cash on hand, and 144 districts would have fewer than 90 days cash on hand. (The budget plans do not reflect the current actual days cash on hand and may or may not have contemplated state payment delays.)

As of July 24, 2017, no school districts had submitted requests to amend their calendars to delay the start of the school year.

And then they updated…

I checked again, and as of today, no school districts have submitted requests to amend their calendars to delay the start of the 2017-18 school year.

The attachment is here.

None of this fear mongering would even be necessary had the big brains at the top of the food chain worked out a deal. And, if you’ve been monitoring the live coverage post (and read this morning’s subscriber edition), you know something could be afoot. We’ll see.

* This is from Dr. Jennifer Garrison, the Sandoval C.U.S.D. Superintendent, about her own district’s situation…

We are doing a cash flow analysis each week at a minimum to determine how long Sandoval C.U.S.D. 501 can stay open without FY18 general state aid. The projection as of this morning making payroll and paying only essential bills based on our cash on hand is September 1st. It is important to note that I have implemented a purchasing freeze and only essential items to open our doors to start school are being approved.

Once our local tax revenue comes in, we can operate another month. If our local tax revenue comes in before August 31st, that puts us to October 1st. This is the best case scenario without any unforeseen costs.

Let’s hope this doesn’t last until October.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

15 Comments
  1. - Almost The Weekend - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 3:15 pm:

    “Sandoval School District, that must be in Marty Sandoval’s Senator district who is in Chicago and Madigan is one of his state reps. Schools having to shut down in Madigan’s district will really show them. ”

    -Bruce Rauner


  2. - Retired Educator - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 3:15 pm:

    Starting school then needing to shut the doors, is almost worse than not opening at all. All programs on a shut down and restart, will be affected.


  3. - Malthus - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 3:17 pm:

    I am curious why ISBE relied on numbers provided by school districts and not on numbers from districts’ audited financials?


  4. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 3:25 pm:

    I know this is probably a dumb question but here goes: No school district is 100% dependent on state aid correct? So if a district gets 30% state aid shouldn’t they have 70% of their money available to open? And I realize property taxes come in two installments but money must be somewhere right?


  5. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 3:25 pm:

    Malthus, FY 2017 just ended a month ago. Audited financials won’t be available for some time. Further, willfully sending bad numbers to ISBE would break a bunch of laws.


  6. - K-12 Supt. - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 3:28 pm:

    Some people think not opening schools means not spending any school district funds, but that may not be the case. When contemplating the various options on working through this latest craziness with State Funding, superintendents are going to have to wrestle with the fact that they may have to pay the salaries for those who are working under a bargained contract and/or an administrator contract. Salaries makes up 65-75% or more of a school district operating budget. After talking to our attorney, he says that the question on having to pay employees their salaries if school shuts downs due to State Funding woes hasn’t been tested because that scenario hasn’t happened in Illinois before. So If a school district is obligated to pay those salaries, then it might as well open and stay open as long as it can. That means issuing bonds, tax anticipation warrants, tax notes, or whatever else it can do to keep offering a free appropriate public education for our students.

    In addition, if a school district were going to delay the start of school due to this crisis, they wouldn’t submit a new school calendar until the very last minute. I am sure schools in this position are hoping/praying for a resolution so they don’t have to submit that new calendar. The question I would ask is how many school districts have an amended school calendar ready to be submitted in case school doesn’t start on time? I am sure that the schools who can’t open on time probably have that scenario worked out and are just waiting for the “other shoe to drop” to hit the submit button.


  7. - K-12 Supt. - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 3:32 pm:

    DuPage Saint - You are correct, School Districts do get local tax dollars and those can be used to begin school. The issue becomes how reliant is that particular school district on state funds vs local funds, and the payment cycle for local tax dollars. I’ve worked in some districts that don’t get their first payment until the end of September and end of October. If that is the case, those districts would have gone since June without receiving any revenue.


  8. - Texas Red - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 4:03 pm:

    Property tax disbursement dates for tax payments to local taxing bodies including school for Dupage County. the big checks come June 1st and September 1st…
    Thursday June 1, 2017
    Thursday June 8, 2017
    Thursday June 15, 2017
    Monday July 3, 2017
    Tuesday August 1, 2017
    Friday September 1, 2017
    Friday September 8, 2017
    Friday September 15, 2017
    Monday October 2, 2017
    Wednesday November 1, 2017
    Friday December 1, 2017
    Friday December 22, 2017


  9. - walker - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 4:38 pm:

    TRed: Thanks for the info.

    Did you ever think such information would be so critical? What a sorry state of affairs.


  10. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 5:04 pm:

    Well said, Walker. I agree.


  11. - JS Mill - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 5:30 pm:

    K-12 Supt is right.

    So are Walker and AA. Sad.


  12. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 5:31 pm:

    Most schools should be able to open because the local property tax revenue is pretty much all in by early September. The question for each district is how long will that money last? Even for districts with a high % of property tax money there is a problem: the state is behind on last year’s mandated categoricals, but the bills for transportation, special ed, etc, have already been received and must be paid. So, that combination of overdue payments still not received plus no payments for the current year will likely result in a long, slow cascade of closures should state funding not be paid.


  13. - RNUG - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 6:38 pm:

    There is one more consideration I haven’t seen mentioned. At least some schools (CPS comes to mind) have outstanding tax anticipation loans that will need to be paid from the property tax revenue.


  14. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 8:22 pm:

    –There is one more consideration I haven’t seen mentioned. At least some schools (CPS comes to mind) have outstanding tax anticipation loans that will need to be paid from the property tax revenue.–

    Right.

    Isn’t the state still short on a billion from last school year?

    Consider this caveat from ISBE:

    (The budget plans do not reflect the current actual days cash on hand and may or may not have contemplated state payment delays.)

    Given those points, it could be a lot worse than ISBE is painting it.


  15. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:35 pm:

    Are you ready for some football?


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