RI-Milan School District looks to compensate for deficit


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Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013, 9:29 pm
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By Nicole Lauer, correspondent@qconline.com
The Rock Island-Milan School District is looking at making $2 million in budget reductions and using $2 million of reserve funding in order to compensate for a projected $4.1 million deficit next school year.

Administrators provided likely Tier I cuts to board members on Tuesday with plans to return to the board's next meeting, Feb. 26, for public input and possible board action.

Recommended cuts presented to the board include:

-- Increasing class sizes by one student to 28 students on average across the district, which would eliminate nine teaching positions.

-- Eliminate capital outlay spending by $125,000, forcing the district off its regular maintenance schedule for large projects.

-- Reduce textbook purchases by $149,000.

-- Combine elementary administrator positions for a savings of $55,000.

-- Reduce interdistrict special education spending by $150,000, with the aim of meeting the needs of more of these students in-house.

A complete list of recommended budget cuts is available on the district website, rockislandschools.org.

Superintendent Mike Oberhaus said, in the past, administrators presented a wide range of budget-cutting options before presenting their recommended picks. He said, this year, administrators are starting out by presenting the Tier I options with the hope of alleviating some of the fear and anxiety that has arisen during past budget discussions.

Despite many questions about state and federal funding, budget decisions must be made now so staff may be notified in April, he said.

Budget projections are based on assumptions that the district will lose $2.5 million based on general state aid being prorated at 89 percent of the foundation level.

Administrators said district employee contracts are due to be renegotiated, but they are projecting no increases in contracts. They also project a 9 percent increase in health insurance costs and a 3 percent increase in all contracts and supplies.

The district now has $24 million in reserves and expects to start the next school year with $22 million in reserves. The district needs at least $15 million in reserves to avoid short-term borrowing and other financial issues.

In other business, board members:

-- Approved the hiring of M. Kathryn Taylor as the director of assessment and accountability for the 2013-2014 school year with a salary of $113,060.25. Ms. Taylor will replace Bill Osborne, who is retiring.

-- Approved changing the high school math curriculum from a traditional pathway of algebra, geometry and algebra II to a more inclusive approach. The new curriculum will be phased in over the next three school years and will allow for seniors to take classes such as statistics, calculus and others.

-- Learned the new cut scores issued by the Illinois State Board of Education are expected to drop the number of students meeting or exceeding state standards on the ISAT exam by 20 to 30 percent. The change is said to better align with the Prairie State Achievement Exam, Common Core State Standards and college and career readiness goals.

















 



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