Illinois schools return with short-term relief, long-term needs

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EAST MOLINE, Illinois --

Cheryl Schehl can almost hear the drumbeat for school to start.

"A lot of heavy equipment to move," she said.

The longtime Music teacher is getting her classroom ready at Northeast Junior High.

"It's just wonderful to know that we can get through another year," she said.  "We don't have to cut things at this point."

The Silvis district is expecting about 700 students to return on Wednesday, August 3.

Despite the Illinois budget crisis, its enrollment remains steady.

That pinpoints the importance of a year-long funding deal from Illinois lawmakers.

"40% of our funding comes from the state," said Dr. Terri VandeWiele, Silvis superintendent.  "If we don't get that funding source, there are dire consequences for our school district."

That makes Monday's staff meetings a lot more pleasant.

Some 85 Silvis teachers and staffers now can prepare for a full school year.

Several local districts had warned about early graduations and a shortened year without state funding.

"Without a budget, we can't plan," she said.  "There's just no way."

But even though school funding is in place this year, long-term issues remain about paying for education in Illinois.

Schehl knows all about the debate.

Dragging on for decades, it creates more uncertainty for Music and Art programs.

"To have programs dismissed because of state budget issues would be very unfortunate and sad for the students," Schehl said.

Short-term relief from Illinois lawmakers still needs long-term solutions.

"It's critical for our schools, so that we don't have to do through this uncertainty every year,"  Dr. VandeWiele concluded.