Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

March 12, 2013

Unit 50 makes athletic cuts, raises fees

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

TEUTOPOLIS — Teutopolis school board members approved Monday a mixture of cuts and fee increases designed to slice a projected deficit of nearly $1 million.

But Unit 50 board President Marty Siemer said the cuts are far from set in stone.

"Even if we have a vote on any of these items tonight, we are still open for discussion on how something can be saved," Siemer said.

Much of the discussion at Monday's meeting centered around proposed athletic cuts and fee increases. The board voted unanimously to cut $44,503 from the athletic programs and voted 5-2 to generate fee increases totaling $114,750.

Athletic cuts approved Monday include reducing the number of coaches for junior high baseball and softball, high school boys and girls basketball and high school track. While none of those programs will be cut totally, the board's action will force remaining coaches for junior high baseball and softball to institute a cut policy.

That's something board member Carl Repking doesn't want to see.

"Kids need to be active, particularly on the junior high level," Repking said. "I look at the fact there was 42 kids out for junior high baseball this year.

"Now, a lot of kids won't be given opportunities, and I struggle with that."

The cuts approved Monday will also knock out the freshman-sophomore girls basketball program Ñ meaning that incoming freshmen from a state champion eighth-grade team won't have as much opportunity. Coach Laurie Thompson told the board, however, she would try to play a partial frosh-soph schedule next season.

Also cut Monday was boys and girls golf, as well as fall high school baseball.

Earlier Monday, a somber board voted unanimously to cut several teaching positions for financial reasons. Teachers who will see their positions either eliminated or reduced include part-time ag instructor Dale Will, high school family and consumer science teacher Amanda Hazlett and high school English teacher Annie McClellan. Will and McClellan were cut completely, while Hazlett was cut to three-sevenths time by eliminating the Diversified Occupations work program.

Siemer said the decision to cut those teaching positions was not an easy one.

"These are excellent quality educators," he said. "We don't want to do this, but finances tell us we must."

The board hopes to save $99,142 by cutting the three teaching positions, as well as extended contracts for high school counselors and kindergarten teachers totaling $3,927 for work done outside the school year.

The board also agreed to make $60,000 in miscellaneous cuts, including eliminating all field trips ($8,000), overnight staff conferences ($5,000) and reducing substitute teacher pay from $90 to $85 per day ($4,400), as well as several other cuts.

To raise money, the board agreed to impose a $5 fee for all non-athletic activities, raise the athletic fee from $25 to $75 per student per sport and raise the registration fee for all levels $15. It is expected those fee increases will add about $50,000 to Unit 50 coffers.

Repking and Siemer voted against the fee increase proposal.

The board also agreed to raise lunch prices 25 cents per meal for all levels, as well as raise the driver's education fee from $50 to $250 per student. The lunch price increase is expected to raise $43,750, while the driver's ed fee increases is expected to raise about $18,000.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or bill.grimes@ effinghamdailynews.com.