When voters in the East Moline Elementary School District go to the polls Tuesday, they'll choose four board members from among six candidates. The winners will be facing budget deficits, crowded classrooms and shortfalls in funding from Illinois.
Superintendent Kristin Humphries told board members at the Feb 20 meeting the district needs to make up $300,000 and will be operating in deficit spending until it finds out in May what it will receive in general state aid.
The funding crisis is taking center-stage with most candidates, who agree it is the most important issue.
The six candidates are incumbents Lisa Betsworth, Kai Killam, Robert Anderson and Gregory Shouse, and newcomers Patrick Green and Christopher VanSpeybroeck.
Mr. Killam said he is running for re-election so he can continue to provide support for the great staff and students in the district, in addition to overseeing responsible use of taxpayer funds.
Mr. Anderson is concerned with crowded classrooms and wants to consider other options for facilities. He said he'd like to see a new school built in the Watertown neighborhood of East Moline where most of the kids are bused to school.
"Our schools are busting at the seams, we need to be able to meet the needs of our children," said Mr. Anderson. "We need to establish a presence below the hill. What defines a neighborhood? Schools do that."
Mr. Shouse is most concerned with budget problems in Illinois and how they affect downstate schools like those in East Moline. He said it's imperative to manage taxpayer money and district funds as efficiently as possible.
Mr. Green also is focused on managing district funds and stretching them to meet everyone's needs.
"This has been, and will continue to be, an issue until our state gets its financial woes under control," said Mr. Green.
Mr. VanSpeybroeck agrees the most pressing issue is the lack of state funding, which has resulted in larger class sizes and fewer extracurricular activities.
As a former United Township board member and employee of United Township High School, he said he offers the perspective of an educator and businessman.
Today is Wednesday, Dec. 11, the 345th day of 2013. There are 20 days left in the year. 1863 — 150 years ago: The message of Abraham Lincoln, read in congress yesterday, is published in full in our paper today, with a new proclamation relating the terms upon which states can return to the union. 1888 — 125 years ago: An appropriation has been made by congress for the improvement of the upper Mississippi River with $200,000 set aside for the portion of the river between Keokuk and the mouth of the Illinois River. 1913 — 100 years ago: Work of remodeling First Swedish Lutheran Church at 4th Avenue and 14th Street was nearly completed. 1938 — 75 years ago: An unexplained outbreak of tularemia (rabbit fever) in the state has Illinois public health officials puzzled. Ten persons have died, and 243 are officially reported ill with the infection. 1963 — 50 years ago: A dramatic, multi-million dollar riverfront improvement project for the downtown area of Rock Island was unveiled at a meeting of 200 civic leaders at noon today. 1988 — 25 years ago: For several supporters of the Dispatch Goodfellow/Argus Santa program their donation is a year long project. Emma Pugh and Anne Persinger spent a good part of their spare time this year knitting forty pairs of mittens and slippers.