Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2013, 10:22 pm
EM schools operating on deficit until May
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By Sarah Hayden, firstname.lastname@example.org
The East Moline School District needs to make up $300,000, superintendent Kristin Humphries told board members Wednesday night.
Mr. Humphries said the district will be operating in deficit spending until it finds out in May what it will receive in general state aid. He also warned of budget cuts for the 2013-14 school year, noting staffing decisions must be made in March.
"Any staff we cut, we need," he said. "We don't make these decisions lightly. I don't believe we have a lot of fat in our staff right now."
The district will save money when several staff members retire at the end of the school year, he said. Another $20,000 to $25,000 in savings is projected for the district by changing to a cheaper natural gas contract.
Mr. Humphries said results from a staff survey also suggest money could be saved with administrative cuts, fewer substitute teachers and reduced trainings. He said he plans to present the suggestions to the Illinois State Board of Education.
Also on Wednesday, board members voiced concerns about upcoming changes in the Illinois Standard Achievement Test that measures individual student achievement.The percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards is expected to drop because of higher requirements from the Illinois State Board of Education.
"They are a reflection of raising the bar of achievement for students in Illinois," said school board member Lavonne Peterson. "What's really important to us is how that's going to affect our kids. We are under No Child Left Behind and are required to meet certain standards."
Ms. Peterson said the higher standards will be good for East Moline students, bringing them more in line with others.
In other action, the board tabled a vote on the 2013-14 school calendar. Teachers and parents expressed frustration over the number of half days planned for in-service teacher training, asking board members to consider early out days instead.
"Classes are only 18 minutes long during half-days," said Glenview Middle School teacher Laura Kalman. "We don't have time to collaborate in the day; it isn't there. I think early outs can work."
Board President Janet Neff said the board hopes to make a decision at its next meeting on March 27.