Administrator, activities cut as school district tries to balance budget


Kendall Downing

UNION COUNTY, Ill. — The budget shortfall in the state of Illinois keeps falling on the doorstep of local school districts.

Monday night, board members at Anna-Jonesboro High School in Union County had to make some tough choices. They cut cross-country, dance and forensics programs, along with some assistant coaching positions in other sports.

They also let go two full-time employees, including one assistant principal.

"The reason why I decided to come here is my job was eliminated due to cutbacks," said Tom Stark, assistant principal.

Stark took the job at Anna-Jonesboro after working as an administrator for more than ten years at a district in northern Illinois.

"The news never gets any better about losing a job," said Stark.

School Board Chair Ronnie Mays said the state of Illinois shorted the district nearly $100,000 unexpectedly.

"We're here for the kids and the state is not helping us in that area whatsoever," said Mays.

They cut an administrator and extracurriculars because they didn't want to touch the classrooms yet.

"We're just trying to soften the blow," said Mays.

Mays said the state already told the district they can't guarantee all their funding for next year.

"You increase taxes. That's where you get more money," said Mays.

The recent cuts still have the district in the red but able to get by.

"You always want to improve yourself. You always want to improve your family," said Tom Stark.

Next year is uncertain for Stark. He'll start looking for a new job and finish out the year in May.

Even with the cuts, the district still faces a nearly $200,000 shortfall but leaders are hopeful employee retirements will make their financial situation better.