Illinois refunds some cuts to cash-strapped schools

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Cash-strapped Illinois schools will be getting some money back from the state.

Some 600 districts will share $97 million based on need.

Chicago public schools will get about a third of that money, with the rest divided by downstate districts.

Knoxville's new high school is a real community collaboration.

Inside a Geometry class on Monday, numbers start to add up.

Illinois will restore $61,000 in cuts to the district of 1,100 students.

"It's a huge help," said Knoxville Superintendent Steve Wilder.  "We're still going to have a deficit, and we're still needing to hear what's going to happen in the state budget for next year."

Nearby ROWVA also knows about doing more with less.

The district will get $29,000 back.

Money restored to its budget to complete the school year.

"Of course, we'll be $10,000 short," said ROWVA Superintendent Joe Sornberger.  "That money will have to go in our budget and find $10,000 that we have to take out from next year."

While the money returns to the current budgets, bigger challenges remain about future school funding.

ROWVA already sliced $460,000 from its budget.

The district of 663 students is keeping most jobs and programs together by raising taxes and belt-tightening.

"In the end, what we want to know is -- tell us what you're going to do, so we can prepare," said Sornberger.

Knoxville, ROWVA and nearly every Illinois district want to find new ways to finance public schools.

It's a lengthy battle aiming to distribute state money more fairly to schools.

"Here we are, middle of April, and still no direction from the state," Wilder said.

That uncertainty is even tougher on planning for smaller districts like ROWVA and Knoxville that are already feeling the strain to make ends meet.

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