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Fieldcrest Extra Curriculars Hinge on Referendum

Saturday, March 22, 2003 Posted 3:30 p.m.
At Thursday night's meeting, the Fieldcrest Board of Education said that along with reductions in force that were approved at the meeting, it is the Board's intention, if the referendum fails, to cut all extra curriculars, to examine administrative assignments, and implement any other necessary cost saving measures to balance the district budget for the 03-04 school year. The reductions in force coincide with cuts totaling $608,016 for the next school year. These include reductions in administration, programs at all levels, and some extra curriculars in the middle and high school.

"Even with these cuts, the district will still deficit spend by almost $250,000 by the end of the '03-'04 school year," said Joe Knapp, Board President. "The elimination of the remaining extra curriculars will save approximately $124,000, about half of the remaining deficit. The other half will have to be found in other areas." The deficit balance was calculated on the assumption that the final General State Aid payments would be fully funded. These revenues remain uncertain, but even payment in full will not lower the projected $250,000 deficit. A prorated payment or non-payment will increase the deficit further.

The financial situation is further complicated because the Woodford County property tax payments have been delayed. This will force Fieldcrest to borrow operating money to pay its bills and the district will incur an additional interest expense.

The Board also learned that Fieldcrest has been given a 'Financial Early Warning' designation by the Illinois State Board of Education. The report identifies financially troubled districts using four categories - recognition, review, early warning, and watch. Knapp said, "Fieldcrest will be headed for the 'watch' list unless more local tax money is generated or deeper spending cuts are made."

Fieldcrest will be asking voters to approve an increase of $.90 in their education fund tax rate on the April 1st ballot. The current rate of $2.97 is the second lowest in the Midstate Conference and was set when the district formed in 1992. Pubic meetings were held Mar. 17 and 18 to inform voters of the current financial issues facing the district. Additional information on the referendum can be accessed through the district's website at