PALESTINE, Ill. (WTHI) - We've told you how budget cuts in Illinois are forcing public schools into a difficult situation. In Palestine, Illinois, that could means more than cuts to programs, it means cuts to teachers.
In Palestine, Illinois classrooms students spend the day learning the basics of high school math, but it's the state they live in that is having a hard time making numbers add up, at the cost of their education.
"2 years ago we were ranked in the top 40 in the state of Illinois for our tests scores and now we are looking at cutting teachers that were part of that group because the state doesn't fund us," Palestine Superintendent Joe Sornberger said.
This is Joe Sornberger's first year as the superintendent of the Palestine school district. What he's had to learn fast is where his funding comes from.
"We have 3 main sources and those sources are local property taxes, state funding and federal funding. The key to that in rural school districts, is that 59 percent comes from general state aid," he explained.
But the budget problems from Springfield have trickled their way down to even Palestine. That's left the school district with around a half a million dollar deficit to start the next school year.
"With the way things are going we don't have a choice but to make hard decisions and those decisions will be made this month, and the months to come," Sornberger said.
Starting this month, the superintendent says they will have cuts to programs like social studies, math, and science. By cuts, that means certified teachers laid off. If you think that sounds like it's bad now, in the future it could be worse. Early estimates are that rural districts will receive even less of the aid they need next year.
"Chicago and suburban schools don't live and die by general state aid, we do," Sornberger said. "So when they make those cuts, that doesn't bother (those schools) one bit."
So the Palestine Pioneers will continue to head into unchartered territory. Searching for ways to continue award winning education, with less than acceptable funding.
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