EAST MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) More than a dozen teaching positions are on the chopping block in the East Moline School district. That’s the recommendation the superintendent laid out on Monday, February 27th.
District leaders have been anticipating this since there is a more than $1 million gap to make up for. That’s about how much the state is behind in aid to the district right now. The board also approved the new contract with the education association Monday, which included raises to add a bit more to the budget burden. Teachers are relieved at that agreement being finalized, but now have the cuts to worry about.
“That’s something that definitely hits us in the gut,” said Angela Harrell, a teacher and spokesperson for the East Moline Education Association.
Monday’s board meeting was bittersweet for teachers. In one motion their new contract was approved. Moments later, there’s a recommended reduction of 15 licensed employees.
“This isn’t a business. We’re in the business of educating kids so that’s who we have to put in the first and forefront of our mind is doing what’s best for them and taking out 15 educators I don’t think is probably the best choice,” added Harrell.
Many are concerned over class sizes and impacts to students and would like to see the district come up with alternatives.
“These are not numbers on a spreadsheet. Unfortunately, these are real people that bring value to our students and our community and it’s been real difficult so this is never fun,” said Superintendent Kristin Humphries.
Humphries adds that 85% of the district’s budget goes into salaries and there aren’t many other places to trim.
“When the state under funds you close to $1 million a year for seven years, on a school district that’s very dependent on state aid we don’t have a lot of extras for our students,” he said.
The teacher cuts will come first to abide by statutory guidelines. There will likely be additional reductions in April.
“The further along we get into the spring and summer the better we know what might come out of Springfield and our financial picture,” added Humphries.
There will be a special meeting on March 8th where the board will make the cuts official.
Board members unanimously voted to approve the collective bargaining agreement with the EMEA. That wraps up more than 10 months of negotiations. It’s back to the bargaining table beginning in November for the next contract.