Electric rate hike could cost teachers their jobs

Electric rate hike could cost teachers their jobs
By: Arnold Wyrick
CHRISTOPHER, Ill. - The effects of the hiked electric rates in southern Illinois, continue causing financial woes for customers.  Now, some school districts in the region, must try to figure out how to keep the lights on.

In Christopher School District - their January power bill - jumped 80 percent over last months bill. "When you look at taking a hit of six- seven- eight thousand dollars a month it's pretty brutal," says Superintendent Mark Miller. "When you look at things that way, you start thinking that's two more teachers that we could have.  And that's really what these increased electric rates are costing the district."

The picture doesn't get any better for the Benton School District.  It's bill jumped 100 percent.

Back in Christopher, Superintendent Miller points out, there's really only one area the district can look to cutback in - in order to save money - on their power bill. "It's very conceivable that you get to the end of the year, and have to say hey, we're going to have to cut some staff.  And when you cut staff, you cut programs."

Any talk of cutting things back in the classroom arouse a great deal of concern in the Franklin-Williamson County Regional Superintendent of Schools Ronda Baker. "That is a huge concern, because it will affect the efforts to reduce class size.  When you have to cut staff, you can't reduce class size."

Now, Baker and her superintendents from throughout the two counties plan to meet in March, to begin figuring out how they're going to pay the increase in the districts power bills.