Unit 5 teachers’ union speaks out on proposed job reductions, program cuts

The Unit 5 School Board’s decision on spending cuts is scheduled for next Wednesday. (WJBC file photo)


NORMAL – Spending cuts that could lead to a reduction in teaching positions and programs in McLean County’s largest school district is the result of inadequate state funding and insufficient local revenue, according to the union representing Unit 5 teachers.

The school board is scheduled to vote next week on about $2.2 million in spending cuts to help reduce ballooning education fund deficits projected at $14 million next fiscal year and soaring to $32.5 million five years from now.

The Unit 5 Education Association (UFEA) posted a statement on its Facebook page after the superintendent outlined proposed budget reductions at a special school board meeting Wednesday night.

The belt-tightening includes cutting 38 teaching positions and two administrative jobs. The district would eliminate 5th grade band and orchestra and 8th grade foreign language programs.

“To be clear, of course we aren’t going to recommend cutting the positions of any of our members or programs that benefit our students,” said UFEA.

“In fact, we believe our students need *more* staff supporting them, not fewer,” the union said.

UFEA said teachers have agreed to contracts with “minimal” increases in pay and benefits in hopes of protecting people and programs.

“We’ve done more with less in order to provide the excellent education our students deserve and community expects,” said UFEA.

“We all feel the results of inadequate state funding and insufficient local revenue. Cuts will be felt by the entire community, but none will feel it more than our students,” the union said.

School leaders mentioned the need for a voter referendum on raising property taxes, and UFEA said it’s a “community responsibility” to provide education for students.

Administrators said Unit 5′s tax rate is $2.72 per $100 of assessed valuation, only 10 cents higher than it was almost four decades ago.

The board’s decision on spending cuts is scheduled for next Wednesday. A decision may come later on a referendum.


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