Raccoon School Deficit Spending, State Aid Proration to Blame

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Raccoon Grade School Superintendent Matt Renaud says that the district has about four years worth of cash reserves saved up before deficit spending stemming from a 89% proration of General State Aid becomes a problem. The Raccoon School Board passed a tentative 2015 budget during their board meeting on Thursday. 

Deficit spending in the education fund is estimated to be around $113,000. Deficit spending in the transportation fund is estimated to be around $112,000.

Renaud says that if the district had received the money it was owed by the state of Illinois over the past five years, it wouldn’t be in the fiscal shape it’s in.

“Generally speaking, the education fund would be balanced. The transportation fund would be balanced. Operations and maintenance would still be somewhat deficit, but not nearly like it is” said Renaud.

In personnel moves, the district accepted the resignations of Girls Basketball Coach Lacy Scott and Title I aide Jeanna Finley and hired Erica Burroughs to replace Finley. 

Exhibition Shooting Sports Matches a Success

August 22, 2014 Comments off

An exhibition match for the Marion County 4-H Shooting Sports program took place in July at the Rend Lake Shooting Complex near Ina. Five members of the Marion County Clay Busters participated, testing their ability to shoot at clay targets as the targets were propelled through the air from different directions.

Winning in the shotgun category was Devin Krutsinger of Kinmundy as Advanced Champion, Tyler Moody of Salem as Intermediate Champion, and Cotter Hiestand of Alma as Beginner Champion.

Other “Clay Busters” participating in the event were Cole Gordon of Iuka and Ryan Krutsinger of Kinmundy.

The Shooting Sports Archery Division met earlier this month for an exhibition match of their own. Champions were Rhett Bullard of Iuka as Advanced Champion, Matthew Beard of Xenia as Intermediate Champion, and Kristi Moody of Salem as Beginner Champion. Also participating were Kaleb Lacey of Kinmundy and Wyatt Reich of Dix.

Marion County 4-H will begin a new year on September 1st, 2014. Youth aged 8 as of September 1st or between 3rd grade and age 18 are eligible to enroll. For more information, contact Marilyn Thompson with the University of Illinois Extension at 548-1446.

Salem High School to Deficit Spend in 2015

August 22, 2014 Comments off

The Salem Community High School Board has adopted a tentative budget with a $756,000 deficit.  A frustrated Superintendent Brad Detering says the deficit comes even with the district spending $14,000 less than during the last fiscal year.  

“We don’t have an expenditure issue. We have a revenue issue” said Detering, “The local taxpayers are carrying their fair share. We have a problem with revenues from the state…the states proration is making it nearly impossible to have a balanced budget”

Detering says they expect state aid to decline another $140,000 this fiscal year, making the loss over the past three years $700,000.   He reports the cuts in expenditures is the result in a cut in number of staff members.

“Two staff retired, and we didn’t fill their positions. We had a third staff member who retired and we were able to save on their replacement. The problem is we’re running in to is we’re…absorbing a lot of these positions, leading to larger class sizes” said Detering.

Detering expects the deficit at the end of the year to be substantially less, but doesn’t think it can all be erased as it was during the past fiscal year.  The tentative budget has total revenues of $5,652,000 and expenses of $6,278,000.  The district has reserves from past years to cover any deficit.  

Principal John Boles reported the district was starting the year with 754 students, and a larger freshman class than anticipated.  The class break down shows 203 freshmen, 181 seniors, 173 juniors and 197 sophomores.   

The board acted on a number of personnel issues.  The resignation of math teacher Stephanie Clark and student council sponsor Carolyn McCullum were approved.  The board hired Chad Bryan as automotive teacher, Kyle Lapington as math teacher, Vendee Quandt as assistant cross country coach, Matt Donoho as student council sponsor, Stacy Milburn as bus dispatcher and Angie Cannon as an individual teacher’s aide for the first semester.  

Detering reported the lighting replacement project in the two gyms was complete, with much brighter lights that are more energy efficient.  A new sound system has also been installed in the large gym.   Detering says a speaker will be installed on the visitor side of the football field to replace the one that stopped working a few years ago.

New Engineering Technology Company Coming to Salem

August 22, 2014 Comments off

A technology company is opening an office in Salem.  Salem Business and Industrial Commission member John Andrews made the announcement at the Salem Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon on Thursday.  Andrews says the decision came because the company was happy with the quality of training being done in the drafting program at Kaskaskia College, but had found students they wanted to hire not wanting to leave Salem.

“This company has 40 locations throughout the US, but they said ‘thats OK, we’ll come to Salem’. So they went through Kaskaskia College…and now we have a technology company coming that will bring around 30 engineering jobs” said Andrews.

The company has signed a lease to use the portion of the recently remodeled Modern Woodman of America Insurance building on East Schwartz Street.  

Andrews notes Salem is running out of office and warehousing space, which means the city will be moving into a building phase.  He also promoted expansion of the Salem Leckrone Field Airport runway to 5,000 feet to handle business jets.  Andrews says right now planes have to go to the Centralia, Mt. Vernon or Flora airports to land and then drive to Salem.   He feels the Salem Airport has added potential because it is so close to I-57.   

South Central Schools to Deficit Spend in 2014-2015 School Year

August 21, 2014 Comments off

South Central Grade School Superintendent Rick Batchelor expressed continuing frustration with prorated and late state aid payments from the state of Illinois when presenting the tentative budget for the 2014-2015 school year to the School Board on Wednesday. Batchelor says that two of the district’s funds have spending in the red: the education fund and the transportation fund.

Batchelor says that if the district had received the money they were owed over the past five years, they wouldn’t be experiencing economic hardship at all.

“We could have a decent fund balance that would allow us to do thins we haven’t been able to do in the past five years. I don’t have an exact number on what we have lost int he past 5 years, but I guarantee its in the neighborhood of $500,000″ said Batchelor.

The board was also briefed by Poettker Construction representative Jon Carroll, one of the construction managers for the upcoming renovations at the High School and Grade School. Carroll told the board they expect to put the project up for bid to a construction company in September at the earliest and expect a ground breaking in October.

The board hired Stephanie Jones as district band teacher, replacing Phillip Maro who had been hired earlier in the year.  The board hired Jane Miller and Misty McCarty as co-cheer coaches.  Sherry Hargis was hired as interim high school volleyball coach for the 2014 season.  The board recalled Connie Githinji, Wendy Reid, Twyla Hassebrock and Nancy Ritter as teacher aides.  In addition, Lucretia Schroeder and Amanda Robb were hired as teacher aides.  The board approved Justin Dotson, Jeremy Chasteen and Andrew Snow as volunteer coaches.  

The board approved a 2.25 percent pay increase for non-union ESP Personnel.  

IDOT Cuts Positions Following Questions on Hiring

August 21, 2014 Comments off

CHICAGO (AP) – The Illinois Department of Transportation is eliminating 58 positions that are at the center of a lawsuit alleging questionable hiring practices. 

Acting Secretary Erica Borggren said Thursday the move is designed to boost “accountability and restore public trust.”

In addition to eliminating “staff assistant” positions, IDOT is creating a board to evaluate hiring, and is continuing a freeze on hiring for positions that can be filled based on political connections.

This year an anti-patronage attorney filed a federal lawsuit seeking an investigation and independent monitor to oversee employment practices at IDOT. 

That followed a 2013 Better Government Association report saying Quinn and predecessor, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, hired as many as 200 “staff assistants” without adhering to rules prohibiting political considerations and without properly offering the jobs to the general public. 

Storms Knock Out Power in Fayette County

August 21, 2014 Comments off

1,700 Southwestern Electric Cooperative Members lost power during powerful Wednesday night storms. Southwestern’s Joe Richardson says that customers first started losing power around 10:00pm. 

Outages were reported in Fayette, Effingham, Bond, Clinton, and Madison Counties. The final outages were resolved around 3:55am.

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