Mt. Vernon Register-News

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May 8, 2014

State makes late payments

MT. VERNON — As of last week, the State of Illinois was caught up in its reimbursements to area school districts, said Ron Daniels, regional superintendent of the Hamilton-Jefferson Counties Regional Office of Education.

Daniels said this is much earlier in the year than usual for the state to be up-to-date in its payments.

This is good news for school districts, since they are heavily reliant on state funding during the spring and summer months, Daniels said. Schools don’t receive local property tax revenue until the fall.

“That local money is used up,” Daniels said. “It’s just good to have that funding as you head into the summer, knowing you have money to cover your bills.”

The Illinois State Board of Education reports all school districts in Jefferson and Hamilton counties are current in their state payments, Daniels said.

This includes all state aid and categorical funding. Categorical funding helps pay for special education and transportation, as well as providing grants.

The other major type of state funding is general state aid. This revenue stream is of particular importance to school districts because unlike other reimbursements, it does not have to be used for specific programs, school officials said. It can be allocated for operating expenses.

“It’s important to us and it’s something that our district definitely needs,” said Aletta Lawrence, assistant superintendent of District 80 Schools, speaking of state funding.

Daniels said he was surprised to learn of the state being caught up in its payments.

The state has been pretty consistent in its general aid payments, but had been falling behind by two to three months in categorical reimbursements, he said.

There is often a lag time between when this state funding is “vouchered” and when it is released by the treasurer, he said.

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