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Many unknowns with state’s education budget

Lake County School District No. 7 Supt. Sean Gallagher recently provided state budget updates to the county commissioners as well as the LCSD#7 board.

The commissioners received an update during their March 5 work session, while the school board discussed numbers at their Monday, March 11, regular meeting.

Gallagher noted in both settings that a number of factors are still in play with regard to final numbers for the state’s education budget.

Gallagher said the governor presented a $6.15 billion cash package with $253 million in Public Employee Retirement System.  The state legislature’s Ways and Means Committee answered with a $6.55 billion cash package with a lesser $200 million PERS reform component.

Gallagher noted that the biggest unknown to date is what will transpire in the realm of PERS reform, as the expectation is for an ensuing legal process.

Other unknown factors include potential regionalization of education service districts in the state, which could mean an additional $120 million cost out of the $6.55 billion cash package, Gallagher said.

An early literacy funding proposal could be an additional $35 million off of the $6.55 billion package, he said.

The worst case scenario, cash wise, would be a $6.395 billion state education budget, Gallagher said, noting that the state legislature does not have a hard deadline for completing its budget.

Conversely, the LCSD#7 district must complete their 2013/14 budget by June 30.  Ideally, the state will have its cash package for education announced by mid-April, Gallagher said, as the district is well into budget preparation season by that time.

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