The East St. Louis District 189 school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to authorize laying off 25 teachers, but Superintendent Arthur Culver said a lot of the teachers who are being dismissed will be brought back at the next meeting.
But the district hopes most of the layoffs won’t be necessary. The move was necessary in case funding isn’t available later.
Layoff notices will go out Monday if the state-appointed Financial Oversight Panel, which oversees the district’s spending, approves them. The panel meets Monday.
School board members Victoria Clay, Kennis Williams, Antonia Ingram and President Lonzo Greenwood voted in favor of the layoffs. Board member R.C. Clark abstained, and Irma Golliday was absent.
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The proposed layoffs will include 25 teachers with one to three years of employment with the district. One of the layoffs is a teacher who is a fourth-year employee.
“Fortunately, we have been able to to bring back several of those employees who were laid off in the past and we remain hopeful that this will be the case in the upcoming school year. Again, we simply await clarity on school funding and enrollment,” Culver said.
Unless the board voted to reduce the staff when it did, Culver said the district would have had to bring them back onto the district payroll for the next school year, something he said could not happen because of the uncertainty with the state budget and the financial situation in the district.
Also on the board’s agenda was an item listed as realignment of schools and school administrators for the 2016-2017 school year. The issue was not discussed in detail. The Board gave Superintendent Art Culver the OK to proceed with public meetings to discuss realigning the schools.
Culver said members of the community, including people who have been identified as key communicators, such as clergy and representatives of clubs, civic groups, fraternities, sororities and faith-based organizations will attend the meetings.
Culver said, “We’re considering several options.” But before a final decision is reached there will be some public meetings.
The first meeting will be held April 27 at 6 p.m., at the Board of Education building at 1005 State St.
A realignment of administrative staff will enable the district to give raises to school administrators, who according to the district have not had a raise in several years.
“We restructured central office assignments. Changes in the central office assignments netted a savings of over $385,000,” Culver said.
The administrators will receive a $2,000 stipend for years 2014-2015 and years 2015-2016. For 2016-2017 they will receive 2.5 percent pay increases and for 2017 they will receive 3 percent increases. District officials said there are approximately 60 administrators in the district. They are not union members, however, their raises were consistent with the negotiations with unions.
Culver said the layoff authorizations were an “economic necessity.”
Culver said, “Unfortunately, like virtually all other school districts across our area and the state, our district has been forced to honorably dismiss employees at the end of the last several school years as a precautionary measure based on annual uncertainties in funding and enrollment.”
The layoff authorizations were throughout the district. Some were based on performance evaluations. But, most were laid off because of the district’s financial situation.
Board member Kinnis Williams said every year the district lays off some teachers because of its financial situation. And, with the current situation of no state budget, the district doesn’t know what money it will get and therefore doesn’t want to have a payroll it cannot fund.
“We have to do this from a financial perspective. We don’t know what funds we are going to get. We don’t want to go backwards. We want to keep moving forward,” Williams said.
Resident Vivian Scott, who said she was an educator for 15 years in East St. Louis, questioned the district’s spending on administrators.
“You get all this money from the state. The superintendent makes almost $300,000 a year. Assistant superintendents are making all of this money. The administrators are probably going to get a raise,” Scott said. “We have a superintendent and three assistant superintendents. Why do we need this many superintendents?”
In other business the board approved a policy eliminating administrative stipends for automobiles, travel, technology and reimbursements and allowance.
The board also voted to approve a resolution authorizing a conditional renewal agreement with SIUE Charter High School.