At tonight’s Board of Education meeting, UFEA President Karl Goeke shared the following comments with the Board and Administration on behalf of UFEA:
It is our understanding that tonight you intend to name a principal who will have responsibility for both Carlock and Towanda Elementary Schools. I come here on behalf of UFEA, and in support of the parents and community members you’ve heard from previously, to share that we are concerned about this cut and skeptical of the proposed savings.
Additionally, we are concerned that your decision to have one principal shared between two buildings may violate our collective bargaining agreement with you, an agreement we first made about a decade ago when everyone realized having a principal in each building all day was important for the support of staff and the safety of students, and was the responsible thing to do, educationally and economically.
Further, we recognize that the need to find cost savings is almost entirely a result of the State of Illinois not providing sufficient funding or having a sustainable revenue source to support public education. We’ve been advocating for a better system for years to provide adequate, fair funding … and believe we will all need to add our voices to that fight.
But even if this decision did not violate our contract, and even if the reason for the reduction is insufficient revenue from the State, we are still left wondering how this cut makes sense and what it is really going to save … or cost. We’ve asked several questions before tonight that are still unanswered. And we’ve asked for an explanation of the proposed savings, which we’ve still not seen.
We know having a principal out of the building at least half of each week means those responsibilities have to be covered by others. You’ll have to fill those IMC positions or make cuts elsewhere that haven’t been announced. That’s a teaching position. That’s half your savings. You’ll have to provide a nurse in each building more often – at a cost. You’ll have to have a principal designee in those buildings when the principal is absent, at a cost of $100 per day … not to mention the burden that will place on those willing to accept that responsibility so often throughout the year. And, then of course, you may have to provide subs for those who fill in as principal designee. We’ve done some of the basic math. It’s on our facebook page for everyone to see (the post is embedded below). If your math differs, we haven’t seen it yet and we’d like to compare. But, from where we sit, the savings don’t add up, the risks are too great and the cost is too much.
The opening of our Agreement on this issue states that the Board and UFEA both
“recognize the importance of a building principal being available all day at each elementary building. The parties further recognize that a principal in-building each day will provide support to students, staff and parents.”
We still recognize the importance of having a principal in the building all day at each elementary school to handle potential emergencies, keep students safe and to support students, staff and parents. And, given that the savings are questionable and the costs so great, we are left wondering … do you?
Can you make this cut? Perhaps. Should you? Absolutely not. Will you save anything if you do? Maybe. But, at what cost?