The state is broke, and as a result, Cahokia School District 187 will not have an athletic director, any coaches, extracurricular activities or extra pay stipends for the 2013-2014 school year.
At the its meeting Monday evening, the school board unanimously voted to approve those cuts, with members saying they have no option because the state is broke.
Superintendent Art Ryan said the district's finances are almost all driven by state funds.
He said the district has no ability to borrow any money at this time. And if no cuts were made, Ryan said the district would run out of money by March or April of next ear.
"We have to live within the means we have," Ryan said. He said the district has been told by the state to plan on receiving reduced funding from it.
The board also adopted a resolution that will "vacate administrative positions and re-classify administrators for the 2013-2014 school year."
Ryan said the cuts had to be put before the board Monday because the district is required to give employees a 45-day notice if they are being dismissed or laid off due to a reduction in force (RIF). So the board unanimously adopted a resolution "notifying the teachers of honorable dismissal/RIF."
The board members who voted in favor of the cuts were Larry Wynn, Willie Mae Baxton, Clinton Lovett Jr., Peggy Shelton, Bernadette Wiggins and Richard Sauget.
Ryan made it abundantly clear that it was not the board that was to blame for the cuts.
He said the state is $1.2 million behind in payment to the district already. Ryan said a final decision on the cuts won't be made until after "we get a final budget from the state."
"If it happens, we will lose almost $5 million for next year. This is a tragic amount of money," Ryan said.
"As of right now it all is precautionary. Everything that was done tonight was done with the worst-case scenario in mind."
"It's very depressing and very hard to keep motivated. But I have a lot of confidence in the staff and the teachers in the district. They understand that it is not an act of the board. We're being mandated to deal with the fact that unfortunately we live in a state that is broke," Ryan said.
He also told a reporter "that doesn't mean things can't be altered down the road."
Ryan said district officials probably won't be able to say what programs will exist next year until July. Now, though it appears there will be no sports, no music, art or physical education. And, students who were depending on scholarships to attend college may not get them.
Asked how many students are in this situation, Ryan said he did not know at this time.
If the cuts remain in place, District 187 will lose 52 teachers, 13 support staff, three secretaries and 11 bus aids, said Leslie Hardy, president of union Local 1272.
Asked what her emotions are regarding the cuts, she said she is upset about them, but her anger is not directed at the district, but at the state, which she says, keeps taking away from education.
"How do they expect us to teach and educate children when they cut 52 teachers?" Hardy asked.
Phyllis Jackson, associate principal at Cahokia High School, said, "It's a sad day in the state of Illinois. But, it's where we are. Like (Superintendent) Ryan said, it's the worst-case scenario. It can't stay this way. I believe in God. Things have to look up."
Ryan said there are 4,000 students in the district and about 600 total employees -- 275 of them are teachers and 25 are support staff.
Board member Larry Wynn said the cuts are hard on everybody. "We didn't have any other option," he said. "We are required to give everybody a 45-day advance notice of any dismissals or reduction in force. If the state doesn't give us the money, we have no choice."
Laketra Thomas, a parent who attended the board meeting, said she is very concerned for her son, who is an honor student and a basketball player.
"My son has been in this district since pre-K. This has always been the district where I wanted my son to be in. And, he likes it here. But, now, I am worried. They are starting to take things away. My son loves basketball, It's his passion. I am concerned about other honor students who are good kids, too.
"What happens to these kids who come to this district and work hard?" Thomas asked. "I feel like they are going to be cheated. I am sick to my stomach. Laying off 52 teachers, that's ridiculous."
For her, she said it's not all about sports. "My son is an honor student. But, he also loves basketball. That's his passion. He's sick about it. He is almost a junior," Thomas said.
Thomas said she might have to consider moving if the her son can't get everything he needs in District 187.
She also was disappointed that not more parents were at the meeting to let their voices be heard.
Ryan said students may have a shorter school day because of the cuts because they may have to be sent home 40 minutes early or required to arrive 40 minutes later next year because the art, music and physical education periods are the time when teachers do their planning.
Asked whether class sizes would increase due to the cuts, Ryan said he doesn't expect they will. Currently, there are 30 to 32 students in a classroom.
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.