Dist. 150 Supt. prepared for funding cuts

By WEEK Producer

May 8, 2013 Updated May 8, 2013 at 7:13 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- According to Dr. Grenita Lathan, Peoria Public Schools have some big challenges to wrestle with.

During her annual State of the Schools address, the District 150 superintendent told an audience of about 300 local leaders and educators that anticipated cuts in education funding, including a proposed 20-percent cut by the state, will make it harder for the district to balance its budget.

"Should the state legislature appropriate funds at 80-percent for next school year as proposed, our district will have lost $17-million in state aid alone," said Lathan.

And Lathan added that now federal funding is expected to shrink.

On the bright side, a recently extended contract with the Peoria Federation of Teachers gives the district one area of fiscal certainty.

"We know now, up into 2016, what pay increases will look like, what the teachers salary scale will look like, so that's how it helped our bottom line," Lathan explained.

But less than one half of the district's 2,700 employees are teachers. And there are expenses for needed renovations to 11 district buildings that are more than 60 years old and for increased school security measures.

Peoria's mayor wonders how much can be accomplished if some politicians in Springfield have their way.

"The state of the schools is directly impacted by the state of the state," said Mayor Jim Ardis. "For the state to be pushing pensions back down on the municipalities is crazy and its going to be extremely difficult for the district to try to get a tax increase approved to help them get around that."

And that's simple arithmetic.