Comptroller Susana Mendoza says she’s not sure when school districts will receive state money owed to them for the rest of this school year. Mendoza’s office is in charge of paying the state’s bills.
The state of Illinois still owes local school districts nearly $1 billion to cover the current school year. But Mendoza, a Democrat, says she’s not sure when they’ll actually get the money.
The delay has already reached six months, and the office expects no additional revenue to come in for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
At a hearing at the state Capitol Tuesday, Mendoza said the available cash in state coffers sits close to $159 million. Meanwhile, the backlog of bills the state has not yet paid is currently $12.3 billion.
Illinois funds local school districts with two pots of money: one is a baseline payment based on enrollment — schools received that. The other is reimbursement for things like buses and special ed.
Michael Chamness, a spokesman for the Illinois School Administrators Association, says schools need both to function. “School districts are not going to fare very well even if you fully fund one side of this, and you fail to pay the other side,” he said.
Chamness says districts are already planning for next year, and some continue to make cuts to staffing and programs.