Special meeting called to announce District 205 budget reviewers Wednesday, Feb. 16
By Jim Hagerty
A special meeting has been called for Wednesday, Feb. 16, to announce details of an independent review of Rockford Public School District 205’s accounting method it used to arrive at its $50 million budget deficit for fiscal 2012.
The 4 p.m. meeting of the Budget Review Consultant Selection Committee was sparked by teacher’s union claims that District 205 officials grossly overstated the budget shortfall by more than $30 million.
The meeting will be at the District 205 Administration Building, 201 S. Madison St.
Last week, the Rockford Education Association (REA) called the budget deficit a “manufactured crisis” and asked the school board to order the numbers be reviewed and compared to its figures, which indicate the budget hole is approximately $15 million.
“Our examination shows that the school district’s financial numbers are wrong and the anticipated deficit is wrong,” REA President Molly Phalen said. ” The drastic school closings and cuts to programs for children are uncalled-for and unnecessary.”
Saturday, Feb. 12, the school board agreed to the review, however, moved that auditors will be chosen by a committee of board members.
The REA says the audit should be done by unbiased experts with no prior association with the district or the union. The organization has even offered to pay up to $50,000 to make that happen.
According to reports from the district, the REA’s claims are part of a power-play move meant to stall possible labor negotiations in the wake of Superintendent’s Dr. LaVonne Sheffield’s $45 million worth of proposed budget cuts which could include teacher layoffs.
The Budget Review Consultant Selection Committee is expected to announce who will complete the audit this afternoon.
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