Guest view: Many cuts undone in O'Fallon District 90

August 27, 2013 

I am writing to update our community on the status of O'Fallon District 90. Since the referendum campaign, many questions have been answered about state funding, program reductions and personnel changes. Below, please find some general facts about the reductions the district has made.

* The 2013-2014 enrollment on opening day was 3,494 students, which is 11 students fewer than the end of last year.

* The district started the year with 20 fewer teachers and 18 fewer support staff positions, representing an 8.4 percent reduction in staff

* Each building has one fewer custodian on staff.

* The district no longer has elementary PE, elementary computers, junior high art, band, chorus and computers.

* The district no longer funds an extracurricular program. The program is completely funded by the participants.

* Certified and noncertified staffs are in their fourth year at the same salary.

In the spring, the district ran a referendum campaign seeking a 49 cent increase in the Education Fund rate. This need for this referendum stemmed from a projected deficit in the Education Fund due to lack of state funding, anticipated reduction in general state aid, and the transfer of teacher retirement service fee costs by the state to the district (cost shift). In March the district also approved a $2.7 million reduction plan.

During the summer, the state determined that it would prorate general state aid by 11 percent instead of 20 percent, and that it would not shift the retirement service fee to the district. These decisions decreased the district's projected deficit by $697,000. End of the year accounting showed the district to be ahead of its projected Education Fund balance by approximately $500,000 due to a combination of better-than- projected local and state revenues and expenditures that came in under budgeted projections.

For this school year, the better-than-projected state proration of state aid and the better-than-projected year end balance allowed the Board of Education to call back some programs on the reduction plan. The board worked diligently to prioritize call backs for those items on the reduction plan. Due to this work, the following were called back or implemented:

* Classroom teachers to reduce class sizes

* Instructional aides

* Elementary music

* Junior high assistant principal

* Reduction of registration fees

* Minimal stipend to all staff as compensation.

In the end, District 90 is no longer deficit spending in the Education Fund. While the district is not offering the same level of service as last year, it is still providing a quality education delivered by dedicated, creative teachers and support staff of which we are very proud.

Todd J. Koehl is superintendent of O'Fallon Community Consolidated School District 90.

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