GALESBURG, Ill. -- Miranda Hedden knows that her Social Studies classroom could be the first stop for incoming sixth graders at Lombard Middle School.
"Lockers, schedule changes are always nerve-wracking," she said.
While classes start on Tuesday, August 15, in the district of about 4,500 students, there is another challenge: Illinois already missed its first payment for the school year.
"I love teaching, and I love what I'm doing," she said. "You just don't think about those negative things."
The Illinois House now has two weeks and counting to decide on school funding. Lawmakers are due back in Springfield on Wednesday, August 16, amid more uncertainty.
Galesburg must hope for the best, yet prepare for the worst.
"We're kind of doing everything with one arm tied behind our back," said Dr. John Asplund, District 205 superintendent. "The state doesn't seem to get its act together to try to help all kids."
Veteran Math teacher Dave Sharp knows all about the situation. His positive posters aim to inspire students in his room.
One of them, which reads, "The Future Starts Today," is even more timely.
"It kind of puts teachers and school districts in a situation that we don't know what to do," he said.
While some 500 students return to Lombard Middle School in a matter of hours, teachers and staffers will concentrate on what they can control.
"These are all our kids, and we just need to come together as much as we can and get this finished," said Principal Nick Sutton.
What they can't control, they'll leave to the lawmakers. Right now, House Democrats need at least seven Republicans to cross party lines.
In this era of division in Springfield, nobody knows if that will happen. It sends a frustrating message back to educators.
"We're supposed to be teaching kids that education is important," Hedden concluded. "Right now, it's not showing that (Iawmakers) value that."