Area schools to see cuts to Pre-K funding

It has come to light that school districts that are part of the Regional Office of Education #33 are losing out on a large early childhood education grant.

At the District #205 Board of Education meeting Monday night, Superintendent Dr. John Asplund informed the board that, based on preliminary numbers from last year, the Pre-K program was losing around $120,000 which would result in about 80 less students being served.

“We were originally led to believe we would have an increase so this is obviously a huge problem for us,” said Asplund to the 205 Board.

United Superintendent Jeff Whitsitt tells WGIL that District #304 is missing out on $60,000 which will see them having to cut one of the four all-day sections they provide to preschoolers.

“This year we served about 77, we had capacity for 80,” said Whitsitt. “So we’ll be limited to 65 now.”

Whitsitt also says that the districts making up ROE #33 pool their resources together to give every district a chance to fully fund their programs. He said that this year it was time to re-compete for the early childhood education grant.

“Typically in the past… when new money is pushed into Pre-K the competitive grant process comes out [and] they hold harmless the existing grant and it’s just the new money that is dived out over the competitive process,” says Whitsitt. “It appears… to me that they did not hold harmless the existing grants. They just used the competitive rubric and determined who was getting how much money based on that.”

According to District #276 Superintendent Dr. Mike Curry, Abingdon-Avon will lose funding for two preschool classrooms which serviced about 40 students.

Monmouth-Roseville Superintendent Ed Fletcher says that they applied for funding individually apart from the ROE until FY18 and he was under the impression funding levels were reverting back to FY17.

He excepts District 238 should receive the same amount received last year.

Jodi Scott, Superintendent of ROE #33, tells WGIL that in total $2,883,389 was cut from early childhood education and preschool funding in the region. Which she says was about 50% of their current funding level.

Superintendents in the region will be making a trip to Chicago on Wednesday to go before the Illinois State Board of Education and ask for reconsideration.

WGIL will have more on this as it develops.


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