The District 308 Board of Education did not discuss another round of potential budget cuts as expected at their meeting on Jan. 14. This comes after controversy and tension over money issues in the district, resulting in public outcry – especially from Oswego High School students. Many activities and other suggestions have been put up on the chopping block, but what is safe remains a mystery until the vote is in place.
“[ The Board ] didn’t have clearance yet from our legal or the state,” Board of Education President Brad Banks said.
The Board originally wanted to conduct voting on Dec. 17, concerning on a proposed list of fee increases and budget cuts totaling $3.9 million. The decision making was delayed to provide time for citizens to share their opinions on the matter.
To allow for this, the district reopened its online suggestion box that was first introduced in late 2017.
While the budget-related issues are left for Board of Education to resolve, the state played a large role in the creation of this problem.
“I think we see that continuous pattern of our state legislation,” Banks said. “Yes, they are trying to fund our public education properly, but I don’t think they are taking the right steps.”
The board realizes that mistakes have been made in the past, but are working diligently to make the best of a bad situation. Although all Illinois school districts are dealing with the same funding issues, District 308 has been more significantly impacted due to the local economy. Compared to the surrounding districts, Banks said that “they have a lot more local industry and local tax dollars that they can leverage…We don’t have a large industry within the district boundaries.”
In this tough situation, the district is working hard to continually prioritize students over money. They will maintain the balance between providing every opportunity possible to students, simultaneously keeping in mind what they can afford.
The new presentation planned will include suggestions previously submitted to the box. The next board meeting, which will include a public forum, will be held in the Oswego East High School Auditorium on Jan. 28., with action expected to be taken on Feb. 11.