Neoga Board Talks Over Financial Situation w/Community Members

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Published on March 20 2014 12:22 am
Last Updated on March 20 2014 12:26 am
Written by Greg Sapp

Members of the Neoga Board of Education presented their case to residents of the district Wednesday night regarding its financial future and what steps might be taken to address the situation.

Board President Tina Moore went through the scenario.  Moore showed figures that indicate the District will have less than $307,000 on hand by the end of the current fiscal year.  The projection is that the District will be $11,000 in the red the following year and some $400,000 in the hole in 2016.  That is, unless spending is reduced.

Moore and the Board presented a laundry list of items they are considering.  Among them: not filling vacancies created by retirements of a custodian and a secretary, making a fulltime high school Math position a part-time position, eliminating the Accelerated Reader program and eliminating middle school Summer School, reducing Kindergarten and first grade to two sections each, eliminating extra days for the librarian, eliminating days on the principals' contracts, cutting Spanish to a part-time position and cutting Family and Consumer Science to a part-time position.

Moore said consideration is also being given to a half-time Art teacher, eliminating one classroom aide, and making vocal music and band half-time positions.

It's expected the cuts in personnel would save $275,000.  Any cuts in personnel must be announced by mid-April due to requirements regarding notification of affected employees.

A variety of suggestions were offered and questions asked by district residents.  One person wondered why, if enrollment is lower at the primary grades, are the personnel cuts being made at the high school level?  Moore said there are cuts proposed for Grades K and 1 and reminded that the other grade school and junior high class levels were impacted by last year's cuts, when 11 positions were eliminated.

Another person asked why an administrator couldn't be eliminated?  Moore said the administrators handle situations that come up during the day so teachers don't have to be out of their classrooms dealing with the situations.

One resident wondered about closing one of the classroom buildings?  Moore said the Board had considered that issue, but said they couldn't offer the variety of courses and activities available if one of the buildings is closed.  She reminded that if activities are eliminated, it will be a ticket out of town for some people who will look for those activities elsewhere.

There was discussion about whether a referendum should be held in hopes of generating additional tax revenue.  Moore said that has also been considered by the Board, but nothing has been proposed.

The other issue raised was consolidation with another district.  Moore said the subject has been broached by the Board, but that would take co-operation with another district and approval by the public.  She said she hasn't gotten the sense that it's something the majority of district residents want to pursue.

Moore encouraged residents to contact their legislators and tell them to properly fund education and to give schools the money that was promised by Springfield.

The Neoga board will meet again Thursday night to consider candidates to replace Tom Shutte on the Board since he resigned his spot recently, and will hold another public meeting on Friday night at 6:00 to again discuss the budget situation.