School District 204 Hopes Signs Shame State into Paying Debt


Aurora, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Indian Prairie Unit District 204 hopes a little shame goes a long way toward making the state pay its growing debt.

Every sign at each of the district’s 33 schools now tells anyone who passes by “The state of Illinois owes District 204 $7.8 million.”

The $7.8 million was due to the district by the end of the 2009 calendar year, and officials believe the state’s $13 billion debt will force the legislature to further reduce payments to individual school districts.

For Indian Prairie, the estimated $500 to $700 reduction per student will result in $14 million to $20 million in additional budget cuts, which Superintendent Kathryn Birkett said likely will result in program cuts and the release of some nontenured teachers.

“I’ve asked every school to add this to their signs because I think it’s important that our community knows the state is now $7.8 million in arrears to us,” Birkett said.

“Every parent, every citizen, needs to know that.”

State representatives who serve the district – which covers portions of Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook and Plainfield – say they recognize the effort to let residents know the reason for the budget crunch.

“I’m OK with their signs and I like that they’re engaged in the political process, but we’re asking them to sit tight until we have the cash flow to write those checks,” Naperville Republican Rep. Darlene Senger said Friday.

“They can keep the signs up as long as they think they need to, but the money is on its way.”

School board member Dawn DeSart, a Democrat who will challenge Senger for state representative in November’s general election, said she has been asking Birkett to put the signs up for weeks.

“The state owes us that money and people need to know that,” DeSart said.

“I was chosen by the voters to sit on the school board and that’s my top priority. The state needs to take care of our kids and our schools.”

Democrat Rep. Linda Chapa La Via of Aurora chairs the House Appropriations Committee for elementary and secondary education; she hopes the signs don’t give the wrong message.

“I get why they feel the need for the signs, but I’m afraid it makes us look like we don’t want to give them the money,” Chapa La Via said. “We’d love to be in a situation to give it to them, but we can’t give what we don’t have.”

So she offered an alternative.

“The other side of those signs should be telling people to call their legislators and demand that we work together to get this crisis fixed before we get into a hole we can’t get out of.”

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