Palestine schools facing more cuts

Palestine, Ill. (WTHI) We’ve told you about the Illinois public school budget problems in the past. A year later the Palestine Illinois school district is facing an uncertain future and exploring every option to continue their students’ education.

One year ago, we toured the halls of the Palestine, Illinois’ high school. At that time superintendent Joe Sornberger faced some tough decisions.

“At that point and time we made, as a district, $300,000 dollars worth of cuts,” Sornberger said.

On Monday, superintendent Sornberger explained how the district combined cuts with a refinancing of the school bonds to bring this year’s budget closer to even.

“But, in the Education fund we currently have a deficit of $200,000 dollars,” he said. “As you know with deficits they don’t just go away. The state of Illinois has not painted a great picture for the next funding year.”

Which means another round of cuts is due for this district and with it, a possible consolidation of the elementary school and high school under one roof. By closing the high school building the district would save $37,000 on energy bills alone.

“There would be some additional savings because we’d be able to look at people we might not need or things we might not need in those buildings which would be an extra $43,000 worth of savings,” Sornberger explained. “(That brings the) total to around $80,000, which is pretty big.”

However, he said the district must see if they first can fit all the students in elementary school halls and then look at the long term effects on the students’ education; all part of the balancing act that is becoming a yearly routine for superintendents in rural Illinois.

“How, do we balance fiscal responsibility with providing educational opportunities for students?” Sornberger ended saying.

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