MT. VERNON – Administrators say it's unclear whether Mt. Vernon Township High School will receive its final two general state aid payments for the year.
The two payments, totaling $350,000, are owed for the month of June, said Superintendent Michael Smith. All the monthly aid payments this fiscal year have been $30,000 to $40,000 less than the previous year, so losing the final two payments would compound the funding problem, he said.
“If some additional funding were to come in June, it certainly would be welcome,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, District 80 school officials do expect to receive two June payments. However, with each payment this year being lower, the district has lost about $643,000 this year, said Superintendent Mike Green.
General state aid is an important revenue source for school districts. Unlike other state reimbursements, general aid does not have to be used for specific programs and can be allocated for operating expenses.
“It pays for the general business of running the school,” Green said.
MVTHS expenses for the year are coming in on target, which helps, Smith said. Even so, the district may have to dip into reserves or borrow money through its line of credit if the June state funding does not materialize.
District 80 will dip into its reserves this year, but will not have to borrow money, Green said.
At this point, staff cuts are not planned at either MVTHS or District 80.
“We'll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best and as we get into the next school year, we'll see how it goes,” Smith said.
Lack of state funding puts extra pressure on school administrators, who are being asked to do more with less, said Carl Miller, MVTHS school board president.
Appealing to the taxpayers with a referendum would likely not be a realistic option for addressing the problem, he said.
“We're in a tax cap county and we can only get so much from the taxpayers,” Miller said. “They're not going to want to pay a referendum to cover this. … We're just out here trying to do our best.”