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District 308 superintendent urges Illinois to release funds to schools

Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 4:38 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 4:41 p.m. CDT

School District 308 Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Sparlin recently submitted a letter to Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, asking that the state disburse all mandated categorical funds for fiscal 2017 that are owed to the district.

“These unpaid funds are key for the district being able to maintain a balanced budget, as required by law,” Sparlin said. In June 2016, Illinois policymakers announced that the state would “fully fund” public school districts, but since then the term “fully fund” has been narrowly applied to only include the General State Aid (GSA) funding.

Although District 308 is receiving 100 percent GSA funds for fiscal year 2017, it has not received any mandated categorical reimbursements (MCATs), which are owed quarterly. 

“These [MCAT] payments provide revenue to our schools for things such as special education, transportation, early childhood education, free and reduced-priced lunches, and more,” Sparlin wrote.

Delays in MCAT payments have had serious repercussions for District 308 and other districts.

“Payment delays cost school districts money, including the loss of interest earnings and potentially trigger the need for short-term borrowing and additional interest costs. MCAT delays have created cash-flow problems for our district,” Sparlin wrote.   

The delay in MCAT payments has resulted in an $11 million shortfall in District 308’s budget.

Sparlin urged Mendoza in his letter: “If education is to be a priority in Illinois, funding for it must be a priority as well. I urge you to disburse the funds that have already been earmarked for District 308 so that we will be ‘fully funded’ with both GSA funding and the disbursement of MCATs as promised.”