The Board of Directors of R.E.A.CH. (Rockford Educating All Children) states that it is imperative that the board AND the employee unions reopen contracts for concessions. Monday, Jan. 26, at the District 205 Operations Committee, R.E.A.CH. learned that the district may have to borrow as much as $97 million to keep schools open for the 2004-05 school year and $115 million to keep schools open in the 2005-06 school year. They would exceed their borrowing limit. Dr. Bueschels plan, which calls for only $8 million in cuts this year, will NOT be enough. The district needs to stop violating its balanced budget policy and keep its promise to the community to reduce the deficit to zero by 2006. The board must have concessions/cuts of $30 million to keep this district from being taken over by the state.
Over the past two years, the district has UNDERESTIMATED the amount it needs to borrow for the following year. The following information is what the district has published to the board: (See chart above.)
1. For the district to avoid state financial takeover and keep the district from having to make draconian cuts, the following CONCESSIONS must happen from employee unions:
Eliminate retiring teachers bonus ($10M in savings).
Wage freeze ($12M in savings).
Increase employees contribution for insurance.
Teachers pay part of their retirement ($1-$10 million in savings).
Reduce amount of stipends.
Bring back retiring teachers at beginning salaries.
Without concessions, the following classes/popular programs may be eliminated to balance the budget:
A. Reduce high school to a four-period day and close two high schools.
B. Reduce middle school day to state minimum.
C. Reduce elementary school day to state minimum.
D. Eliminate all non-mandated programs.
E. Eliminate kindergarten and preschool and close elementary schools.
Barb Dent is president of R.E.A.CH.