How the State Budget Impasse could seriously affect Meridian


photo by Andrea Ricker

Pass Illinois Budget! The state hasn’t had a full budget in two years. Meridian has already made changes due to the budget, but more change could happen if the state doesn’t pay. “I don’t anticipate that coming into next school year, anything will be different for us, as far as we operate. But I can’t say that for every school district,” says high school principal Mr. Hurelbrink.

by Andrea Ricker , Editor-in-Chief

For the past two years, the state of Illinois hasn’t passed a full budget, which is causing schools like Meridian to not get the money they need from the state.

“K-12 education has been somewhat lucky, in that when they haven’t passed a full budget, they’ve passed at least an education budget,” says superintendent Mr. Brue. The state used to prorate amounts, which caused Meridian to only get 89% of their general state aid, instead of 100%. The state was shorting the school about $240,000.

This year, however, the state is no longer paying the mandated categorical payments. The state now owes about $300,000 to Meridian. “When we don’t get those funds from the state, we are forced to do one of two things; make some type of budget cuts, or use our reserves,” states Brue.

“People, they hear things like, ‘The state doesn’t have a budget,’ but they don’t think about what that really affects, and they don’t think it affects the school,” says high school principal Mr. Hurelbrink. “We sort of takeĀ it for granted, that the school districts gonna be here and that the doors are always gonna be open, but unfortunately it’s a bad, bad issue for schools across the state.”

CivicsĀ teacher Ms. McKinney added that the governor refuses to sign the budget in order to force the general assembly to pass his legislation.

“I believe the Governor is wrong because he refuses to compromise which is how government works. Acting as a CEO is very different than governing. I want our elected officials to care more about the people across the state than winning an argument in Springfield,” says McKinney.

The lack of money from the state has already had a big impact on the school. Meridian now does their own busing and hired their own special education teachers. “But those are just changes in how we do business,” adds Brue, “If the state doesn’t start coming through with the money they’re supposed to come through, we’ve kind of run out of all those good ideas of things that we could do to save money and still keep our programs. Eventually, it’s going to come down to [us making] some tough choices on programs.”

The school is trying to do all they can to not make those cuts. “When the state’s not paying you, you really do have to start looking pretty closely at what you do on a day to day basis just to see where you’re spending your money and maybe where you can save it,” states Hurelbrink. He adds Meridian is fortunate enough that even if the school doesn’t get all the payments, we’ll still be in an okay position.

“The last thing we want is to cut programs,” Hurelbrink adds, “We don’t want to disrupt the course of the educational environment. We don’t want to do things that are so drastic it will affect [the students].”

So, what can you do to help? The best way is to contact your legislatures with your concern and inform other people about the State Budget Impasse and how it affects the school and community.

“When thousands of people across the state contact their elected officials, that is a lot of pressure which may convince them to compromise. Voters have a lot of power, but they don’t use it because they don’t realize they have it,” says McKinney.