Use $1.6 million to balance, not restore, cuts

R.E.A.CH. (Rockford Educating All Children) says that the $1.6 million District 205 would receive if they vote on July 20 to do the interstate rate swap should be used to lower next year’s budget deficit. The district has a balanced budget policy, and next year’s budget is not close to being balanced at all. District 205 administration and board promised voters in 2001 and 2002 to have surplus budgets to lower the deficit by 2006. Instead, they have continued their overspending, increasing the deficit, and are depleting the working cash fund. It’s time for this board to do what it promised to the voters and be financially responsible.

R.E.A.CH. also announces that a letter has been sent to Governor Blagojevich, the majority and minority leaders of the Illinois House and Senate and to our local legislators asking them to do the following:

1. Eliminate the right to strike by public employees so children and the taxpayers are not held hostage by the employee unions going on strike. Illinois is one of the few states that allow this disruptive practice.

2. Enact legislation to force school districts to have balanced budgets. Illinois is one of two states that do not have this law.

3. Revise the law so school districts can give any employee 60 days notice of job elimination.

4. Reduce physical education requirement for secondary schools.

Other suggestions are as follows:

1. Refuse to enact legislation that would give unemployment benefits to school district employees who work only during the school year.

2. Refuse to establish an appointed board for District 205 since our boundaries include both Winnebago and Boone County residents.

3. Revise the school board code to allow districts to have both at-large and sub-district representation on the board instead of one or the other.

In the letter sent to Sen. Emil Jones, 14th Dist., R.E.A.CH. stated: “While our present District 205 board majority is waging a campaign to blame the state for their financial woes, R.E.A.CH. understands that our state legislators do not vote for the union contracts, decide referendum amounts, and administer the state requirements. The school board and administration do these tasks. Our community has passed four referendums in the last three and a half years. We have been promised balanced budgets, declining deficits, and a focus on education. They have done the exact opposite at the expense of the children and wasting the monies given to them from the hard-working taxpayers.”

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

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