Emotions run high at D.167 financial forum

2014-03-24T23:00:00Z Emotions run high at D.167 financial forumDavid P. Funk Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 24, 2014 11:00 pm  • 

GLENWOOD | The Brookwood School District 167 Board explained its financial situation to an emotional group of stakeholders at a special meeting Monday in the Brookwood Junior High School gym.

"Although we may be having financial challenges, like any other school district we would not substitute our student's education for mediocrity," Superintendent Valorie Moore said. "We will continue to make any necessary cuts in our budget without cutting students short."

Bloom Township Schools Treasurer Rob Grossi gave a presentation similar to one he gave at a board meeting in February. Grossi outlined the district's dependence on state funding and said the financial crisis in Springfield will continue to strain Brookwood's budget for the foreseeable future.

He warned of the potential shift in responsibility for teacher's pensions from the state to the district.

"The most troubling thing is I can't envision a situation where a downward trend in state revenues isn't going to happen and that it's not going to happen for a long period of time," Grossi said.

Grossi also said District 167 is in better shape than some other districts in the south suburbs because it has healthy fund balances.

The forum was held in the wake of personnel cuts made last week. District Business Manager Andrew Ziegler said nine and a half certified staff positions were cut, including four teachers, one administrator who may return in a half-time position, eight aides and two clerks. The moves will save the district over $700,000, Ziegler said.

Moore said the district will honor the contracts of those who will be laid off through the end of this fiscal year.

Teacher's Union President Sara Duffy, who teaches eighth-grade science at Brookwood Junior High, read a statement to the board criticizing the way the district handled the cuts. She said some were publicly notified of being laid off during meetings and others heard rumors before being officially told.

"For the first time in my five years here at Brookwood, I am embarrassed to be part of this once-outstanding school district," Duffy said.

Duffy said the district did not meet the legal deadlines in notifying the union that it would be making cuts and the union would be taking further action.

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