SCHOOL DISTRICTS APPEAR AT ODDS
By Ross Donnan
MONMOUTH, IL- After months of painstaking and tedious work, the Deficit Reductions Committee of the Monmouth-Roseville School District, presented its recommendations for reducing an expected budget deficit of over a million dollars.
Among the recommendations was instituting a 1% sales tax across Warren County that would directly fund the Monmouth-Roseville and United school districts. That proposal suffered a setback later in the week, however, when the Superintendent of the United School District said he may not support such a tax. According to a report in the Monmouth Review Atlas, Superintendent Jeff Whitsitt said that such a tax may not be in the district’s long term best interests. Whitsitt also put a damper on suggestions that the United School District might be consolidated with Monmouth/Roseville. He said there have been no discussions about consolidation and he doesn’t intend to pursue that possibility.
A second proposal was for a one year salary freeze for all district employees. That would have to be approved by the teachers union, which has not expressed an opinion one way or another on the possibility.
Some examples of other cut-backs recommended include the following:
-Dropping of certain programs (i.e. Life Skills courses), saving $90,000
-Elimination of Business and P.E. Class overloads, saving $24,000
-Raise Drivers Ed. Fee by $20, saving $1250
-Reduce teacher supplies, saving. = $25,000
-Ask Athletes/Boosters to cover Uniforms, saving $7,000-$10,000
-Cut one assistant coach from nearly every sport saving $35,936
- All proposed cuts would result in savings of $259,000
“We understand that some of these cuts will be affecting the students learning directly” said DRC chairperson Tim Tibbetts, who then turned to possible plans for closing three schools.
The first option was to close Willits and Harding Schools, and re-locate students to Lincoln, Central, and Roseville Elementary. This was the least likely option because the numbers were not significant enough to make a large enough difference in the deficit. None of the DRC council members supported this option.
The third and final option seemed to be the most preferred and most reasonable. That proposal was to close both Roseville and Willits Schools. Class levels would be split fairly evenly throughout Harding, Lincoln, Central, and the Junior High School. This does however create the ever present issue of increased amounts of transportation, (via school bus) and busing fees. Nine of the fifteen committee members supported this option.
With the closing of these two schools, there would be two empty school buildings to address. There was mention of a new Hospital Unit being built, but that seemed unlikely. The option that seemed most plausible to the board was “mothballing” the buildings and putting them up for sale, which could increase revenue, if they were purchased.
The recommended budget would bring the total revenue to 1.2 million dollars, which would successfully reduce the deficit facing the School District.