Maroa-Forsyth district responds to parents at forum about $450,0 - Wandtv.com, NewsCenter17, StormCenter17, Central Illinois News-

Maroa-Forsyth district responds to parents at forum about $450,000 in cuts

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FORSYTH - Parents wanted answers at a forum Wednesday night about hundreds of thousands of dollars in budget cuts in the Maroa-Forsyth school district, cuts that will be determined by Monday.

Parents' major concern were staffing cuts that could affect students' education and why all of these cuts now, so suddenly, when the board admitted, they've seen this problem coming for several years.

During the forum Superintendent Mike Williams laid out past and present expenditures, where the district has saved and where revenues have fallen. Numbers that stuck out included: The district needs to make $450,000 in cuts, all of which will be determined by Monday at the school board meeting. State funding has dropped about $1 million in the past 4 years which has contributed to the budget gap. Parents understood that the cuts need to be made; however, they were upset that so many cuts were coming so soon instead of more solutions over a period of time. They also were surprised that they didn't know about these cuts sooner. The school board admitted the shortfalls have been mounting over several years and now they need to find a solution quickly.

"What we're trying to do is address the short term because obviously that's the most immediate need," said Superintendent Williams. "They're still tons of work to be able to address this as a long term solution and that's a lot of tough decisions that have to be made by the administration and the board of education in the months to come."

"I still think that we need to be looking at a broader picture as far as where potential reductions could be made and not just focus on education," said parent Lee Ann Beane.  "I know that everybody gets very emotional about cutting teachers, and I understandably so, I feel the same way. I think we need to be looking at administrative expenses."

Beane said she moved to this district in 2011 because of the opportunities it could provide for her daughter who is in grade school.  She was a little concerned about her daughter's future in these programs now. But she hopes this forum marked a fresh start of communication between the school board and parents.

One parent pointed out that the district's financial health score fell close to last in the state in the past several years. It was near the bottom in 2012 due to capital plan improvements, according to Williams but moved up in 2013.

The meeting lasted about two hours. About 100 people were at the forum listening and got their questions answered.

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