Illinois Education Secretary calls for school funding vote during Galesburg stop

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GALESBURG, Illinois -

There's an urgent call to action from Illinois Education Secretary Beth Purvis on Thursday.

She's asking state lawmakers to pass funding for education by June 30.

"In this room, there are those of you who are worried about how you're going to open the doors, your doors," she told educators attending the Teaching & Technology Revolution Conference in Galesburg.

Several local Illinois schools face opening late or closing early without a deal.

"We need our legislators to take a vote on something," said Galesburg Superintendent Ralph Grimm.

Like its neighbors, Galesburg schools need state funding to stay open.

The district's doomsday scenario must consider early graduations, a shortened year and serious consequences without funding.

"I'm spending all my time now talking about how long can we go," Grimm continued.  "How do we shut the district down?  That's not a way to run a district."

Purvis says that behind-the-scenes bipartisan work continues.

"I know the stress of not having a budget affects every parent, affects every teacher," she said.

But it will take a vote in Springfield to offer a solution.

She says that current legislation offers a plan with money in place to keep schools open.

"If it's passed, it will mean an increase in funding of $240 million," she said.

Purvis says it would also fund things like early childhood programs and ag-education.

The downstate visit puts a face on the financial struggles facing Galesburg and other districts.

It also drives home the urgency of getting a budget deal.

"Call your elected representatives and demand that this bill be discussed in committee, on the floor and be called for an up or down vote," she said.

At this point, school districts agree that something is better than uncertainty.

"We need something," Grimm concluded.  "To go into July without a budget, I dare say, is going to be devastating."

Something that could be devastating for all schools across Illinois.



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