Highland News Leader

Highland School Board issues reduction in force notices to only one full-time teacher

Only one full-time teacher in the Highland School District will be given a “reduction in force” (RIF) notice.

The Highland School Board on Monday voted to notify 14 staff members — one full-time teacher, one-part time teacher and 12 other staff members — they may not be hired back for the next school year.

School districts are required to notify teachers and other staff 45 days before the end of the school year if they may not be hired back the next year.

Highland District 5, which serves about 3,000 students, has about 190 full-time teaching positions.

Sutton said the RIFs announced on Monday will protect the district if students move over the summer.

Sutton said the district’s current deficit, which is now about $800,000, is an improvement over recent years. During the coming year, the district is expecting to trim its deficit by an additional $300,000, he said.

“We’re getting our deficit down where we are closer to having a balanced budget,” he said.

The School Board also agreed on Monday to not change its current fee scheduled for the coming school year. Sutton said the district is at a break-even point with the fees it currently charges.

The RIFS announced on Monday do not include vacancies in four full-time teaching positions, which the district does not plan to fill at this time. School officials did not provide further information on what those positions are.

Despite getting a RIF notice, a teacher could still be rehired for next year, if finances allow.

Last year, the district issued 14 RIFs. The district rehired 10 positions. The district also made five reductions in contracts last year, but those teachers still retained employment.

The district issued 12 RIFs to aides two years ago, but was able to hire all of those employees back.

In the 2011-12 school year, the district issued RIFs to two full-time teachers, five part-time teachers and 11 aides. The five part-time teachers and 11 aides were later rehired.

The latest RIFs come on the heels of the district being named to the “financial review” list, the second highest of four classifications used in the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in its 2015 financial report. In the report, districts are categorized by ISBE as falling into into financial recognition, financial review, financial early warning or financial watch. The ratings are based on each district’s annual financial report for the prior year, which ended June 30.

Sutton said it would help the district if general state aid wasn’t prorated. The state has prorated general state aid at 89 percent for the last four years.

“We would love to see full funded general state aid,” he said. “If it was funded at 100 percent, we’d be in pretty good shape.”