Tri States Public Radio Staff
Wed March 17, 2010
West Prairie School District Cuts Teachers
Sciota, IL – Yet another western Illinois school district is laying off teachers because of uncertainty over state funding. The West Prairie School District is letting go of four full-time teachers and three part-time teachers. They will finish out the current school year but will not be brought back for next year.
The Board of Education held a public hearing before making its decision. The only person who spoke is Corrine Galvan, President of the West Prairie Education Association.
"We recognize, even sympathize, that the district needs to make cuts to accommodate for reduced, missing, and late state funds," said Galvan. "However, we are concerned that the district will be compromising the quality of education for our students in exchange for balancing a budget."
Galvan suggested the board consider other ideas, such as reducing the number of administrators and consolidating the two athletic director positions into one.
You can listen to Galvan's presentation to the board by clicking on the audio button.
After the meeting Galvan said she was disappointed, but added she realizes the board had little choice in the matter.
"When you see excellent teachers leaving, and see the impact it's going to make on our kids, that's when it gets very difficult," said Galvan. "And to know that there's nothing the board could have done different to prevent this. That this is forced upon us by the state."
Galvan also pointed out that West Prairie is not the only district laying off teachers, saying "This is a statewide crisis in education funding."
Superintendent Jonathan Heerboth said all of the part-time teachers who are losing their jobs work at elementary schools. Of the full-time teachers, one is from the Pre-Kindergarten program, two from the middle school, and one from the high school.
Dr Heerboth also said a guidance counselor position will be left vacant. That, combined with the cuts, will save the district $218,621.
Board of Education President Scott Vogler said the district would have preferred to wait to make cuts until the state's funding picture becomes more clear, but school districts are required by state law to notify those who will not be retained at least 60 days before the end of the school year. The final scheduled day of classes in West Prairie is May 27.
Vogler hopes some of the teachers can be brought back once the state's financial picture becomes clear.
The district has 72 full- and part-time teachers.