Small Schools Continue to Feel Hit From State's Struggles

 Neoga - A small town with a small school, in Illinois, is bound to have financial disappointments.

However, the tiny town of Neoga is no stranger to the same tough financial times as bigger districts in nearby Mattoon and Effingham says interim superintendent Elizabeth Pressler.

"Now that you've lost significant local revenue, had to pay back $2.4M dollars," Pressler said on Monday.

Like many smaller districts, the financial hits are ever continuing for Neoga.

Pressler says while tough to make, significant cuts were needed in last week's school board meeting.

"There were 43 people impacted.  We found that we had several programs where the enrollment was very low and very difficult to justify continuing those programs when we had so few students enrolled in them.  We had more special ed teachers than we had enrollment to support," said Pressler, addressing the nearly $1M dollars worth of cuts that were made.

Desperate times in Neoga are calling for desperate measures.

"Neoga is at a critical point right now.  A new major revenue stream, a passed referendum, is the obvious one," added Pressler.

A tax referendum in the tiny Cumberland County town will appear on the April 7th ballot.

Supporters of referendum say that the additional revenue could be the difference between more cuts or keeping the jobs that are already here.

Brian Titus, co-chairman of the Neoga Community Alliance said,"the $800,000 will allow the programs that are essential to the quality of education for the students and the district to hopefully continue.  Those things add to the educational adequacy of our children and what's being offered here through neoga."

And Pressler added,"should $800,000 of new revenue become a reality, I believe it will help me to get this district back on its feet."

Voters will have their say when they decide on the referendum on Tuesday, April 7th.

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