Less State Aid Prompts Cuts

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BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- The Belvidere School District is trying to come up with ways to cut a projected $26 million deficit over the next five years. Many of you are telling us, you feel the district is moving too fast.

The stress of budgeting in the Belvidere School District has shifted from late payments, to less money, leaving parents worried about what's to come.

"I think the current school board is moving way too fast in making such drastic changes, in eliminating schools and making so many reductions,” said parent Tricia Gieseke.

Those changes are proposals from the community. They include closing elementary and middle schools and consolidating the two high schools.

That means all 10th-12th graders would come to Belvidere North. However there just 2,000 lockers here, but next year there would be more than 2,000 students, about 2,100 kids.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Houselog says there are flaws with every option.

"Most of these options were created by people who had a special interest at certain aspects of the district and what our job is is to come up with a recommendation that will reflect the needs of the entire school district."

Houselog says the board will have to move fast, because every year they're getting less money.

This year the district only got 89 percent of the general state aid it was promised and the Illinois State Board of Education says to expect even less, about 80%, over the next five years.

Currently the district is facing a $6.6 million deficit. It also faced a deficit last year, so some say, this happens a lot and the district is fine, so why the big changes now? Again, this is the first year the district is getting a lot less state aid, it's also seeing lower enrollment numbers.

The board is expected to make its final decision on March 18th. Some parents think that’s too soon, but the reason they’re voting in March is so they could give enough notice to teachers who may be let go. That is another option being floated around.

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