Marion school district cuts teachers to balance budget

MARION, IL (KFVS) - Marion #2 School District announced it will cut almost 30 teacher positions, and cut back hours for about 30 more.

Superintendent Randolph Tinder says this school board has been working on a plan for months to help fix the district's financial problems.

Tinder says cuts from state and federal funding pushed the district over the edge this year, after it's already carried a multi-million dollar deficit for multiple years.

The school board decided to cut 14 certified teach positions, 15 non-certified teaching positions, and cut hours for 33 non-certified positions. That is out of approximately 230 teachers in the district. Tinder says the teachers affected have already been notified.

Tinder says the cuts will save the district about $2 million dollars.

"It's never easy when you have to affect people's lives and their jobs none of these positions are positions that weren't needed, or people didn't think were important, none of these people were doing a bad job, but the simple fact is schools are labor intensive organizations we get 70-80 percent of our money we spend on salaries and benefits," said Tinder. "And unless you can raise more money you have to spend less, and that means less people."

Tinder says even with these cuts, the district will shuffle around another $13 million to help balance the budget.

"No it's not financially sound, it's in much better shape but still there are all the factors that affect all school districts will continue to affect this one," said Tinder. "They've rained in spending now, but they're still subject to cuts in state and federal funding which is what pushed us over the edge this year."

Some parents say they're worried how this will affect their child's education. But the Superintendent says the board decided this would be the least detrimental to student learning.

"It will have the least impact that we think we could have on day to day operations of the school district and classrooms," said Tinder. "The bottom line is that we're going to do the best we can with what we have available, and our number 1 priority remains boys and girls."

Tinder says now the district will re-evaluate the roles and responsibilities of remaining teachers and positions to make sure student needs are met.

He says the road to a decision has been rough.

"The bottom line is it's hard for everybody, it's been extremely difficult for the Board of Education because these are their friends and neighbors and people they go to church with," said Tinder.

He says the board has looked at multiple options, and appreciate all the community input and participation at the local forums.

"It's just a matter of the point of view of the people making the decisions," said Tinder. "Our original plan would have eliminated 12 teachers in grades K-5 and we decided the increase in class size would be too detrimental to that age level."

Tinder says it's best if the district has a financial cushion in case more state or federal funding cuts come in the future.

"All this time from August until now, figuring out how to save the district financially, we think we have a good handle on that now for down the road, and so now the board can look to how can they make the district what they want it to be, how can they improve it, and how can they go about doing whatever it takes so those things that they judge shouldn't have been cut, they can afford to put back in," said Tinder.

Some people are wondering if other districts in the state or Heartland will have to take similar measures.

"Everybody feels it to one degree or another, it just depends how much money has been stockpiled or saved up for a rainy day and whether or not if you can continue, but no one can continue those kinds of reduction in revenue for a sustaining period of time," said Tinder.

Tinder says the teachers will finish out the school year, and the cuts will go into effect in August.

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