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By NIKOLLE KEENEY
Rantoul Press corespondent
Rantoul City Schools officials expect the district to be nearly $1 million in the red for the 2013-14 school year.
The state owes $268,000 to the district.
The RCS school board directed district Superintendent Michelle Ramage to prepare a tentative budget for the upcoming year, with major cuts to be expected.Budget reduction possibilities include nine non-certified positions removed and two retiring teachers not replaced. With this, Ramage said the district should not anticipate a huge increase in class size, as some classes are already larger than others. She said these cuts will help even out class size.
Other reduction possibilities include summer school and computer camp cut; special education program cut by $22,580; building instructional supplies cut by $25,000; computer purchases cut by $25,000; cafeteria equipment cut by $20,000; and library budget, conferences and capital equipment cut by $36,612.
A major reduction possibility would be to have some students currently served by CCSCC Connections to be serviced in the RCS district with current staff. Ramage estimates this to be a $162,000 reduction.
The board is also looking into condensed bus routes and busing options.
If all reductions are made, Ramage expects a total savings of $940,000. That figure does not include any increases in salary or savings possibilities with insurance.
While no reductions are final, Ramage said these were hard decisions to make, “especially hard for the people they affect.”
While computer camp and summer school are looking at being cut, the district’s kindergarten academy and junior high interventions programs are safe. The interventions program is funded by Title I grant money, while the other programs are not.
In other business:
The summer migrant education program returns to Rantoul this year.
The program has been hosted in Urbana for the last few years and was at Rantoul Township High School before that. The reason it’s coming back to Rantoul is that 90 percent of students are from Rantoul, whereas only 10 percent of students are from Champaign-Urbana.
Entirely grant funded, the program offers bilingual classes for students ages 5-21; most students are under high school level. The program focuses on improving reading, math and English skills. An estimated 130 students will be enrolled.
The $150,000 grant will cover education expenses, transportation, food and housing. Ramage will work on writing the grant in March. The program will take place in July.
The district has updated retention procedures. At the elementary level, teachers have been provided a flow chart to better evaluate academic progress. At the junior high level, students who are struggling will be given the opportunity to attend a summer bridge intervention program in lieu of summer school.
With cuts being made, students who are not struggling will be unable to attend summer school. This should alter attendance from 40 students to 10 students. This program will be more specific to student needs and will be funded by Title I grant money.
Bullying addressed. Bullying has been an issue for one sixth-grade student at J.W. Eater Junior High School.
The student’s mother pleaded at last week’s board meeting for the board to take action. The woman had previously presented her concerns to her child’s teachers, administrators and even local law enforcement, with no success. Bullying has occurred at her child’s bus stop, in hallways, in the classroom and everywhere in between, she said. The mother said the principal has the names of students involved.
Board member Joan Fitzgarrald said the board would take everything the woman said to heart.
“Something will be done,” she said.
Northview physical education teacher Mike McMahon thanked the board for its continued support of Northview’s cross country program. McMahon has been running the program for 24 years.
He said students love the opportunity to run, and their enthusiasm has kept the program strong. Board members thanked McMahon for being such a great encouragement and cheerleader to his students.
The board learned that Kathryn Scott, part-time speech and language instructor, will retire at the end of this school year. Christina Pomonis will be taking maternity leave.
Resignations include Robert Taylor, head custodian, effective April 1, and Jean Hagemier, bus monitor, effective March 15.