District accepting donations

Last week a letter went out to parents in the Prairieview-Ogden school district.
The letter, the brainchild of Lonna Pruitt, a parent in the district, asked for donations to help the school district financially.
The letter, approved by the school attorney, was mailed by Pruitt, and the PVO PTO paid for the envelopes and stamps.
The letter states, "The State of  Illinois has made draconian cuts in school funding the last few years and there is no reason to believe that it will stop. It is maddening and shameful that the State is making local school districts and our citizens suffer for their mistakes, but suffering will continue for the foreseeable future, and without your help we will more quickly come to the edge of the “cliff”.  For the last three years the Prairieview-Ogden School District has been running a deficit in the Education Fund. For those of you that don’t know the Education Fund is the District’s line item from which all salaries and other education related expenses are paid."
The letter goes on to state that the board of education has avoided eliminating any person's job but have not filled positions upon teacher's retiring. The letter also states that the teachers agreed to receive a $325 step raise instead of their negotiated 3 percent raise.
Because of this the board has agreed to limit their staff reductions for 2013-14 to three full time equivalent certified teachers. The district's administrators have also agreed to have their salaries frozen and benefits reduced.
The letter also states that an anonymous donor donated $50,000 to PVO in the hopes of sparing a teaching position from being cut.
Those wanting to donate are urged to contact Pruitt at 217-841-1799.
Pruitt said she had been going to PVO board of education meetings since the summer and was concerned about any cuts that may be made. Her son is in first grade and she has a younger daughter.
The $50,00 donation made Pruitt wonder if there were others in the community who would be willing to donate.
"I felt this way for a long time—that I didn't want things to change but I didn't know what to do," she said. "I got that phone call and realized there was something we could do."




Originally Pruitt sent flyers home with parents, but then she branched out and got the entire taxpayer list for the PVO district.
Pruitt said she has received $5,000 from another family and multiple checks for $50.
Pruitt said she knows the final decision is up to the board but she is hopeful the donation drive will save all three teachers from being cut. Pruitt said she feels like the one on one attention students get from teachers who have small classes is instrumental to the success of students at PVO.
"I went to Prairieview," Pruitt said. "I think I just have such warm memories of small classes."
Pruitt said she knows the solution is only temporary and may only save a teacher's job for a year but she feels it is worth it.
"It gives a teacher a year and maybe in a year something will change," she said.
Superintendent Vic White said the letter reiterates that the board cannot make any guarantees that even with donations teachers will not have to be cut but he stressed the cuts are not official yet and multiple options are being looked at.
White said state aid has been drastically cut. The district previously received $500,000 and now receives $140,000.
"We will run a deficit of approximately $294,000 in the education fund for fiscal  year 2013," he said.
White said the district has made cuts to spending including cutting teacher supplies and not purchasing textbooks.
The PTO has helped with technology purchases and athletic uniforms.  The district only has one secretary per building, one cook in the north and junior high buildings, which also reduces costs, White said.
White said other items that could be cut include the part-time principal position at the junior high school and the full time principal position at the South Elementary building.  White said a part-time principal could be hired instead.
The district currently spends $281,827 on administrative positions. However, the superintendent also serves as the principal at PVO North and the principal at PVO Junior High also works as a teacher. Administrators can only fill two positions so a superintendent could not work as principal at the three separate buildings.
White said most district employees re doing multiple jobs.
"Everything else we have cut to the bone in the last three years," he said.
White said the education fund started the fiscal year with a balance of $1,683,100. He expects expenditures of $1,977,650, most of which, $1,219,400 is related to salaries.



White said the teachers agreeing to the $325 step raise instead of the percentage raise will save the district $26,000 in next year's budget.
White said cutting three full time teaching positions will save the district $150,000 which will not stop the district from running a deficit again next year.
White said the district has been using its reserves for the past three years to pay for education spending. The district used the reserves instead of cutting personnel.
School districts have nine different funds they used to make a budget.
The education fund is used to pay for teachers, administrators, teachers aids, secretaries, technology people, cooks, textbooks, supplies, extracurricular equipment, teacher professional development, food for student lunches, technology and  insurance among other things.
The operation and maintenance fund is used to pay for janitors, natural and LP gas, electricity, repairs to buildings and equipment, water, sewer, telephone, cleaning supplies and building insurance among other things.
The bond fund is also a part of the budget. The district currently has a million dollar bond for the installation of Geothermal at PVO South and windows at the three buildings.
"We use the one percent sales tax to pay 100 percent of the bond so taxpayers are not assessed on their tax bill," White said. White said that saves district residents who own a $100,000 home $150 per year.
The transportation fund pays for bus drivers, bus repairs, fuel, cell phones on buses, insurance and new buses.
"We have not purchased one for years because the state has pro-rated our  transportation reimbursement at 76 percent instead of 100 percent," White said.
The district has a site and construction fund in which the one percent sales tax money is deposited.
The district also has a working cash fund.
"This fund can be dissolved to put into another account but maximum levy is five cents per year so it generates about $30,000 per year," White said.
The tort fund pays for workman's comp insurance and unemployment insurance.
The health life safety fund include building repairs or purchase service repairs on health life safety work needed.
White said that selling items the district owns, such as a bus, would not solve the district's financial problems because that money would have to go into the transportation fund, not the education fund.
Loaning money to the eduction fund also would not solve the district's issues because while the district can loan other funds money the loan has to be paid back before the end of the fiscal year.
White said the district has no plans to close any schools within the district.








 

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