Mendon School Board considers closing Greenfield Elementary as it looks to cut $400,000

Posted: Aug. 1, 2014 9:40 am Updated: Aug. 22, 2014 11:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

MENDON, Ill. -- Shuttering Greenfield Elementary School in Ursa is one option on the table for the Mendon School Board as it looks to cut $400,000 from its budget.

Superintendent Brian Kurz said the School Board will have to consider that option for the 2015-16 school year if the state's finances don't improve.

"We're going to have to spend the next few months really exploring the details to see if that is the case or not," he said.

Over the last three years, the district has not received about $900,000 of general state aid.

The board discussed meeting its goal of having a balanced budget by the 2016 fiscal year at its meeting Wednesday night. Shuttering Greenfield Elementary could save the district $350,000.

Kurz said the everything is on the table, including programs, athletics and other extracurricular activities.

"We do all those things for less than $130,000 a year," he said. "When you consider the benefit our students get from those activities, we would be losing a lot and not saving much."

Kurz reiterated that any decisions will not be made for several months.

"We're looking at all of our options, and we're going to be really intentional over the next few months at providing opportunities for staff and the community to share their thoughts," Kurz said. "We're forced to make some hard decisions, and we want to do that together as a community."

The district is hosting a community night at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 in the gym at Unity High School to give residents a chance to look at various cost-cutting scenarios.

"Unfortunately, each year the (state budget) problem is not fixed," Kurz said. "The can has been kicked down the road, and it's going to be harder to solve the problem. Until there is some real reform and real change out of Springfield, it looks like it is going to be worse every year for us."

The Mendon School Board also ratified a three-year contract with the Unit Four Education Association that maintains the same salary schedule based on years of experience and education. The average raise is 1.5 percent.

Kurz said a tentative agreement between the two sides was approved in less than three hours.

The contract also decreases end-of-career raises. Teachers now receive 6 percent raises during the four years preceding retirement. By the end of the contract, the raises will be 4 percent.

The board also approved 1.5 percent raises for other employees in the district.