Giant City School Dist. notifies teachers, staff of pending layoffs

The Giant City School Board announced Wednesday they were forced to make significant cuts to the current staffing rolls for the 2013-2014 school year due to lack of state funding.

The decision was made at the regularly scheduled February 2013 Board of Education meeting.

During the meeting, the Board voted to eliminate a total of seven certified teaching positions, six support staff positions and eliminated the position of school librarian. Total reductions of certified staff will reduce teachers by one-third and non-certified staff reductions by half.

"Current reductions in state funding have contributed to this situation for our school," said Belinda Hill, Superintendent.

In the past, the Board and Administration say they have worked carefully to find creative ways to reduce costs. In the past few years, the Board eliminated the Art program, raised extra-curricular participation fees and implemented stronger energy savings initiative to lower heating and cooling bills. Despite these efforts, the Board says too many years of funding cuts by the state have left them with no options other than to eliminate positions, resulting in larger classroom sizes and less optimal learning experiences for the students.

"During the last three fiscal years, the State of Illinois has significantly reduced the amount of General State Aid provided to the school," Hill said. "This has been coupled with a 40 percent reduction in busing reimbursements, and an increase in unfunded mandates by the State of Illinois."

To offset the cuts, the Board voted in January to place a property tax increase on the ballot to help restore these cuts. However, they say passage by voters is not certain, and with that, future problems may exist.

"These cuts are just the beginning, Hill said. "Without the voters supporting this school with a property tax increase, our students and community will suffer, we will again have to increase class size, eliminate non-essential programs and possibly have further layoffs."

Hill added that Giant City School is recognized as a leader in the education community for high test scores, but she said with higher classroom size and lack of resources, their Common Core Curriculum and the new PARCC assessments will be challenging to keep at the high level that parents and the community are used to.

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