After community outcry, O'Fallon Township High School reduces teacher layoffs

Mar 3, 2017

Updated March 3, 2017 with results of an emergency meeting — A Metro East high school has reversed the severity of its planned teacher cuts for next school year.

At an emergency meeting Thursday, the O’Fallon Township High School board of education unanimously approved a new budget deficit reduction plan. The new plan eliminates four classroom teaching positions instead of six full-time and one part-time teacher.  Guidance counseling and library services are no longer impacted by the cuts.

The board also voted to cut four non-certified staff members instead of five.

Original story from March 1 — A high school in the Metro East is cutting nine teaching positions next school year due to a lack of funding.

The O’Fallon Township High School Board of Education approved the cuts  Tuesday evening as part of a plan to trim a million dollars from the school’s budget.

Seven full-time and two part-time certified positions are being cut, including a guidance counselor, a librarian and seven classroom teachers. There will also be one less administrator and five fewer support staff positions in the fall.

School officials told the Belleville-News Democrat that the cuts are partly due to delays in state funding during Illinois’ months-long budget stalemate. At least one other Metro East school district is experiencing financial strain for the same reason. 

With fewer teachers, it will be difficult to meet the needs of the district’s 2,500 high school students, O’Fallon Teacher Union President Mike Day said.

“It’s going to be harder to get into a guidance counselor to talk about college applications. It’s going to be harder to get resources in the library because you just won’t have that librarian accessible all throughout the day. As far as classrooms are concerned, we’re going to see those classrooms climb by 2, 3 and 4 students,” Day said.

O’Fallon Township will increase athletic fees from $100 to $175 and textbook and registration fees from $150 to $175 a student for the 2017- 2018 school year.

The district's 2016-2017 budget projected bringing in about $22 million total, with $6 million of that from the state and $10 million from local funding sources. 

O'Fallon Township High School Superintendent Darcy Benway did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

About 20 miles to the north, Edwardsville School District 7 has a proposition on the April 4 ballot to increase the property tax rate by 55 cents. If Proposition E fails, Edwardsville is considering eliminating freshman and middle-school sports.

Follow Camille on Twitter: @cmpcamille.