12 Apr Knoxville School Board To Review Cuts

April 12, 2010

By: Eric Timmons
Source: The Register-Mail

The Knoxville District 202 Board of Education will meet Monday to hammer out more ideas to save the district money to offset reductions in state funding.

The district has already cut 11 classroom aide positions, although it hopes to bring most of the aides back, and may not fill the positions of five teachers due to retire this year.

At Monday’s special meeting, board members will discuss non-personnel cuts as part of an effort to cover an expected $650,000 drop in state funding next year.

The district’s preschool program could be axed, teachers supply budgets reduced and a range of fees for students could be increased.
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A final decision on the cuts and fee increases won’t be made until April 21.

No action will be taken at Monday’s special meeting but the board hopes to get a clearer picture of how much it can save through proposed cuts and the impact those reductions will have on schools.

Board member Bob Bogard said Saturday that there was a lot of confusion on the board given all of the figures and ideas being discussed. Bogard said he hoped Monday’s meeting would put hard figures on the table for board members to consider.

He also said that a survey of parents about the proposal to cut the district’s preschool program would be on display.

“It’s a case of prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Bogard said of the plan to cut expenses and raise revenue.

Bogard encouraged the public to attend Monday’s meeting and the April 21 meeting when a vote will be taken on the plan to save money.

Knoxville schools are faring better financially than many of their neighbors and that has allowed the district to avoid cutting teaching positions. The retirement of five teachers this year also has helped, although some of those positions may be refilled.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced earlier this year that the state would have to slash funding to schools by $1.3 billion unless legislators vote for an increase in the state income tax rate.

However, legislators are uneasy about coming out in favor of higher taxes in an election year. That has increased the possibility that the state legislature won’t find a solution to the education funding crisis until 2011, prolonging the pain for school districts across Illinois.
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In addition to the proposal to cut Knoxville’s pre-school program, other proposals the school board are considering include reducing the operations and maintenance fund to save $45,000 and reducing textbook costs by $10,000. Another proposal is to cut the Knoxville Junior High School athletics program to save an estimated $75,000. To raise revenue the district could increase the fee for athletic passes by $20, registration fees by $20 and add a $20 technology fee.

Despite the funding crunch, the district is pressing ahead with a new all-weather track facility. The project is expected to cost $750,000 with the city of Knoxville contributing $200,000 in Tax Increment Financing funds. It’s hoped donations can be raised to cover the remaining cost of the project.

The special school board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Knoxville High School and is open to the public.

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