Budget Cut Questions Still Unanswered

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BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- There are heavy hearts in the Belvidere School District, after learning an elementary school will close and teachers will be laid off. Now, we're learning there could be even more changes that affect students.

Parents and teachers in the Belvidere community are devastated after news that Kishwaukee Elementary School will close and teachers will be laid off. "It's a ripple effect, obviously," said Mark Luthin with the Belvidere Education Association.

That ripple effect could continue with new boundary changes. Kishwaukee students who live north of the river will go to Seth Whitman and parents were surprised to learn those students will also have to go to central middle school and Belvidere North High School. "It’s very devastating, it's very upsetting that they would do this and displace all these children. And split everybody up. Especially when they're making their friends. That could be friends for life at this young age. And they're going to split everybody up?," said parent Vince Melillo.

Not only will kids be shifted, but more than 40 teachers throughout the district will lose their jobs.

"We have teachers that were in one building for quite a while. Many of those teachers have been there for a number of years. And Kishwaukee School, they're part of the family. And the students and the parents are all part of the same family. And now they're all split up,” said Luthin.

Superintendent Michael Houselog says the more than two million dollars in cuts had to be made since the state isn't fully funding school districts. "There’s some very, very good staff who are among those who have been reduced. We hope to be able to bring back as many of the really good staff as we can. But that is the reality of what we're forced with,” Houselog said.

A reality kids, parents, and teachers must now learn to accept.

The superintendent says Kishwaukee Elementary students may not be the only ones who will have to change schools. He says in the coming weeks, the board will decide whether or not to move some current Belvidere High School students to Belvidere North and students from South Middle School to Central, as part of the boundary change.
The superintendent also says more budget cuts are possible, depending on how much money comes in from the state.

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