Accountability in District 205

Accountability in District 205

By Barb Dent

Accountability in District 205

We need accountability in district 205. It means that all of us (school board members, administrators, school staff, Rockford Education Association, parents, students and community) must do our jobs.

School board members must ask for waivers from Dr. Eugene Eubanks on the court order, work with him to reduce the court-ordered budget by 25 percent for the next school year, make cuts to the general education budget to absorb the cost of the court-ordered remedies and give the tax protesters/objectors their refunds. The waivers should ease the restriction of the desegregation compliance to bring more students back to the district. The reductions in the court order should be the dual administration, ineffective programs and duplicate programs provided by the general education budget. The cuts in the general education budget should start with the administration and non-mandated positions, curtail or eliminate overtime, limit travel and reduce non-personnel expenditures (especially food purchases) by 10 percent. The board must also investigate the special education budget to ensure that all students in this program have been appropriately placed.

The administration must comply with all board requests. Administrators must be part of the solution and can’t balance the budget on the backs of the students and teachers and ignore board requests. They must develop a five-year plan to show financial solvency. The administration should also investigate privatization of services and evaluate benefit plans to reduce costs, volunteer in the schools and encourage staff and community members to volunteer in the schools.

School staffs must continue to work with business partners, reduce their absences from school and encourage parent and community participation in their schools. They should set high expectations for all of their students and consider volunteering an hour or two a week to their school.

The Rockford Education Association (REA) led by Molly Phalen must stop misleading the public about attorneys’ fees. We have to pay attorneys hundreds of thousands of dollars each year while complying with the court orders, and there are attorney fees that are paid because of student discipline and teacher arbitration cases. The REA should support ending the People Who Care lawsuit instead of encouraging new litigation by suggesting the board close schools and continuing to illegally tax the community, and should make recommendations on cuts that can be made.

Parents and students must value education. Students must attend school, not disrupt the classroom activities, do their schoolwork and be respectful of staff and school equipment. Parents must increase their involvement in the schools. Both parents and students should make recommendations on cuts.

The community must value public education and realize its importance to the city’s well-being. They must volunteer in the schools and be willing to vote for a referendum if the school district makes cuts and has a five-year plan which shows financial solvency.

It’s time to end the rhetoric and demand accountability from all of us. If we all do our jobs, District 205 can thrive again.

Barb Dent is the president of R.E.A.CH.

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