Teutopolis Board Close to Decisions on Budget Cuts, Revenue Increases

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Published on March 5 2013 2:29 am
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Teutopolis school board members are attempting to do what Washington and Springfield seem unable to do...cut spending and increase revenue in an effort to balance the budget.

Board members, administrators and a crowd of district residents gathered at Teutopolis Junior High School Monday night to discuss what to do.  Ironically, one of the possible moves being considered was to close the junior high building, but that has been taken off the table.

Board President Marty Siemer also announced that there will be four sections of second grade offered next year, rather than three as had been considered.

It was also announced that the Board would re-hired all five district administrators for next year after the administrators presented a plan that results in a decrease in pay for each administrator of approximately 2.1%.  The decrease will save the District more than $11,000.

That being said, the Board then heard another review by Superintendent Bill Fritcher of anticipated revenues and expenditures for the coming year.  Fritcher said the District is dealing with a projected deficit of $983,000.  Cuts and fee increases being considered would address the deficit.

Siemer took a straw poll of the board members on the cuts and fee hikes.  All seven said they would support the cuts, with members Gene Niemerg and Carl Repking still desirous of discussing some of the fee hikes.

Here's a look at the cost-cutting moves being considered:

--Not replacing eight teachers retiring at the end of this school year would save $386,000

--Reductions in Force of certain personnel would save $99,000

--Reductions in Non-Certified staff members would save $127,000

--Administrative reductions through the voluntary pay cut and leaving an open position vacant would save $62,000

--Miscellaneous reductions would save $59,000

--Various athletic cuts would also result in a savings, although a pledge was made by Teutopolis Sportsbackers President Rich Probst to raise enough funds to cover the cost of the proposed cuts

The reductions total $807,000.

The Board also discussed generating another $115,000 through a series of fee increases. That would include hikes in lunch prices, registration fees, sports participation fees, ticket prices and drivers education fees.

Some of the proposed moves generated questions during the two-hour meeting.  The athletic proposal was to eliminate fall baseball, eliminate girls frosh-soph basketball, leave a frosh/soph boys basketball coaching position vacant, and eliminate the golf program although players could still compete as individuals.

A host of other clubs and organizations were on the chopping block, but the Teutopolis Education Foundation announced a $25,000 contribution to save those entities for at least one more school year.

While several individuals including retired grade school principal Jim Hakman thanked the Board for deciding to restore a section of second grade next year, there were concerns voiced over first grade class sizes of 26 to 27 students per teacher.  Fritcher said there would be teacher aides in the building to share the load and said the District would continue to cooperate with Eastern Illinois University to utilize student teachers.

Here are the current enrollment projections for Grades 1-6 at Teutopolis:

1st grade--three sections, with 26 to 27 pupils per class

2nd grade--four sections, with 22 to 23 pupils per class

3rd grade--three sections, with 22 pupils per class

4th grade--three sections, with 23 to 24 pupils per class

5th grade--three sections, with 25 to 26 pupils per class

6th grade--three sections, with 25 pupils per class

Fritcher said State funding continues to drop, with current estimates that the District will only receive 80% of what is budgeted.  Add to that a combination of higher property valuations in the district and decreased enrollment, both of which result in reduced State Aid.

The discussing is nearing an end; it's expected the Board will finalize the cuts and revenue enhancements at their regular meeting later this month.

In the only action last night, the Teutopolis Board accepted resignations from Lois Kreke as cook, Dale Worman as a custodian, Janice Ochs as a teacher after the 2015-2016 school year, and Phil Lewis as of the end of the school year.