Whether schools in the metro-east open in August depends largely on two factors: The state passing a budget, which will allow districts to get their money; and what actions the school boards have taken to save or borrow money over the last few years.

Even districts that say they will open on planned start dates are concerned about how long they can stay open.

"I still, in my mind, cannot believe that either side would not let schools open over this fight," said Art Ryan, superintendent of Cahokia District 187.

He's not the only hopeful one.