Decatur Schools: Cutting a $4.5mil Budget Deficit

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Decatur- Decatur's school district 61 has to cut a $4.5 million budget deficit. 

As the board members figure out how to balance the budget, one thing many people in the community don't want to lose are jobs.

"We understand with a new superintendent coming up more changes are on the way and we accept this," said a community member at the Monday night board meeting.

However, what they don't accept are cuts to the Phoenix program, middle school counselors and teacher's assistants, among others.

"I want you to think hard about what 25 first grade teachers are going to look like without a TA," said teacher Suzanne Kreps.

With just that reduction of teacher's assistants, about $480,000 will stay in the pot. However,  this means one of two guidance counselors will stay at each middle school serving about 400 kids.

"Can you image trying to be a counselor for kids all by yourself and you're trying to help them and junior high in particular, are you kidding me," said Barry Buttz a board member.

Buttz is adamant about seeing certain items off the chopping block.

"As far as Phoenix, we have to have an alternative program because not everyone can handle an organized structure classroom," Buttz added.

Kreps sees cuts year after year and can't fathom why Decatur is in a predicament like the last fiscal year.

"It is disheartening because it is only one pot of money and we are all vying for it," Kreps said.

The district is millions of dollars in debt and does not have a clear solution. One contributing factor is the state. The state of Illinois owes billions in unpaid bills.

Buttz also said, if the state finds a new funding process then the district will be in better shape.

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