Unit Four School Board Approved RIF Notices for 149 Amid State Funding Uncertainties
The Champaign School District is sending out tentative layoff notices to 149 teachers and support staff on Tuesday. That's 46 more than last year, thanks to uncertainties in state finances.
The Unit Four School Board approved the reduction-in- force, or RIF notices Monday night on a 5 to 1 vote. School board member Greg Novak said he voted "no", because too many questions were left unanswered --- although he wouldn't say what the questions were.
RIF notices are a spring tradition for Illinois school districts, with most employees hired back in the fall, when state funding has been finalized.
But due to the state budget crisis, Unit Four spokeswoman Beth Shepperd says they can't predict how much funding will come out of Springfield this year.
"What we're doing is trying to be very reactive to what the state is doing to us", says Shepperd. "Currently, they owe us $1.7 million in payments, that we do not know when or if we will receive. We don't expect it this fiscal year."
Unit Four School Board Vice President Susan Grey says voting on the RIF notices was more difficult than usual, due to the state funding uncertainties.
"Of course we are very concerned", says Grey. "These are people, these are their jobs, their livelihood. And these decisions are not made or taken lightly. I think our administration has done a good job of trying to pull together changes that will have the least amount of effect on the district as a whole, and the students."
The increase in RIF notices is sharpest for support staff --- the 53 RIF notices going out to them is two-and-a-half times greater than last year.
Shepperd says Early Childhood and Reading Enrichment programs are among the hardest hit by the RIF notices. But she says the impact will be felt in other programs, because tenured teachers may take positions elsewhere in the district, forcing the layoff of non-tenured teachers.
Earlier this month, the Urbana School Board approved RIF notices for 139 employees --- also an increase from last year.