Dist. 205 school board discusses possible RIFs

The Board of Education for District 205 will need to make a tough decision soon on whether or not to issue a reduction in force to non-certified staff.

With local and state funding expected to see significant drops because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the uncertainty of what the fall will look like, the school district could be issuing RIFs to offset staff that would be deemed non-essential for online or remote learning.

The school district’s Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, Jennifer Hamm, told board members that the district could see local property tax revenue be reduced by as much as 30 percent.

Superintendent Dr. John Asplund added that six months of evidence-based funding would be fully funded but beyond that, it would be prorated.

Asplund says that no matter what the district does, there’s going to be a problem.

“If the coronavirus continues to create problems for us down the road, if schools aren’t allowed to go back it becomes a childcare problem then it becomes another economic problem,” Asplund told board members. “If you put us back in schools you’re going to have lawsuits, litigation… people who can’t work. Now you’re going to have workman’s comp problems. No matter what you do there’s a problem. You could exacerbate the situation by having people here or you could crash the economy by not having people here.”

Given the estimated expectation that it could take years for the state to financially recover from the pandemic, the district could see reduced revenue for some time.

Board president Tiana Cervantez told board members that the school board is responsible for keeping the school budget solvent to withstand COVID-19.

“To Dr. Asplund’s point, if it makes sense to RIF these positions so people can plan, people have access to unemployment so they’re not missing a paycheck or other jobs. But then we have more information out [that says the] buildings are going to be open let’s start calling people back. It is not the best-case scenario.”

The Galesburg Education Association gave the board until July 1 to make a decision on the RIFs.

The board is planning a special meeting later in the month to make a formal decision.

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