Brownstown, St. Elmo School Boards Discuss Consolidation

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Published on March 12 2014 7:11 pm
Last Updated on March 12 2014 7:11 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The residents of the St. Elmo and Brownstown school districts may get another opportunity to vote on consolidation.

The school boards of both districts met Monday night at St. Elmo High School to review financial and enrollment information.  Brownstown Superintendent Adam Bussard and St. Elmo Superintendent Deb Philpot brought historic, current and projected figures regarding district enrollments.  Both districts have seen declining enrollment over the past several yearas.

Brownstown's K-12 enrollment in the 2003-2004 school year was 406, while it currently is at 345.  St. Elmo's K-12 enrollment for the same period has dropped from 475 to 442.  The superintendents noted that enrollments drive funding, and funding drives programs and services.

Elementary class sizes were shared by both districts.  Brownstown currently has a second grade class with 26 students.  This class is broked into two sections, which results in 13 students in a classroom. That's not a normal class size, but Brownstown officials said to combine the two would create a loss in optimal learning environment.  St. Elmo has a similar situation in its second grade, with 14 students in each classroom, but to put together the two would create concerns in the instructional environment.  Decreasing revenues makes it unclear whether the districts can continue to operate at the present rate.

Financial information from both districts revealed that both districts will be experiencing budget deficits as of the 2014-15 school year and beyond, while St. Elmo's deficits appear to be projected much less than those faced by Brownstown.  Brownstown was recently notified by the State that they have been receiving more General State Aid than they actually should have received, due to a miscalculation by the State in the district's poverty count.  Bussard said the State has projected that Brownstown will lose over $771,045 over the next three years, and at the end of the three years will continue to lose $771,045 in State Aid compared to what the district is receiving this school year.

Philpot distributed information received from the Illinois State Board of Education regarding projected incentive funding that could be paid out by the State if districts were to consolidate.  The State projected the incentive funding could give a consolidated district up to $1.7 million in incentives in the first four years of consolidation.  However, the figures could be pro-rated based upon the State funds available.

Both the St. Elmo and Brownstown boards plan to discuss revisiting reorganization of the two districts at their regular monthly meetings in March and April.