Illinois school leaders said they can't offer guidance for how local schools should deal with the lack of a state budget because each school has its own fiscal needs, but most schools say they don't need budget advice.
They need answers about their legal obligations to Illinois' long list of school requirements.
Illinois Education Secretary Beth Purvis said she doesn't have any advice, other than hope, for schools looking for answers about the lack of a state budget.
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“We have 862 districts in the state of Illinois, and I think the answer is going to be different for every one of those districts,” Purvis said. . The Illinois State Board of Education, or ISBE, also doesn't have advice for local schools. An IBSE spokeswoman would only point to Illinois State Superintendent Tony Smith's June statement to schools asking local districts to wait.
Ben Schwarm, deputy executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards, said local schools don't need guidance about their local budgets. He said they are looking for answers about their legal requirement to fulfill Illinois' long list of school mandates, including a full school year and four-year education requirements.
“It is required that [schools] have P.E. every day, of every year, for every student through their K-12 career. We're the only state in the country that does that,” Schwarm said. “There are requirements for special education.”
Schwarm said no school is looking to drop special education. But he said many schools would love to be able to stretch their budgets by having some flexibility with teaching P.E.
Purvis did not say what local schools should do about the state mandates. Again, she said she hopes local schools can figure it out.
“I think we have our school boards and our superintendents who are working hard to plan and make the right decisions for that individual district,” Purvis said.
Schwarm said that leaves local schools on their own.
“A lot of [the answers are] going to have to come from the district's own legal counsel.”
Most Illinois schools said they can open in August. But many doubt they can stay open the full school year without a state budget or without taking drastic actions.