WOLF LAKE (WSIL)—Shawnee Schools spent years negotiating back and forth with the Grand Tower Energy Center over how property taxes would fund the district.
In 2013, new ownership brought more tension.
“Since that time, we have been trying to negotiate another settlement that would allow us to operate, but we were unsuccessful in our negotiations with the new owner,” Superintendent Shelly Clover-Hill said.
The plant alone provides $1.3 million each year.
For context, the school’s operating budget is $4 million.
“So it’s a blow to our operating budget. Let me put it this way. I could cut all of our staff, and that’s still not enough,” Clover-Hill said.
The factory has already delayed payment, but this year it has not paid at all.
“It took several years, but we have enough years in reserve, but it will not take long for us to use these reserves to continue operating,” said Clover-Hill.
Clover-Hill decided to take the issue to the Illinois House for emergency funding and change the wording of school funding bills.
“We could possibly do this every year, so we will be asking for a change in the wording of the evidence-based funding formula in the state, which would guarantee us money to operate,” Clover-Hill said.
If the money is not granted, the Shawnee School District could be consolidated again, resulting in even longer bus rides for their students and staff losing jobs.
And Clover-Hill said she would continue to fight for districts like hers.
“It’s about equity. This shouldn’t be a problem for small, rural schools. It doesn’t matter where you live in this state. Every student deserves the chance to receive an equitable education, and our students are no less only because of geographic location,” Clover-Hill said.