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School board eases up on proposed cuts, amid budget challenges

Cass Herrington


The District 150 school board added several hundred thousand dollars back into its budget for 2016. The move comes as the district grapples with a 13 million dollar deficit.

In May, the board suggested more than $7 million in cuts to try and fill next year’s spending gap. But at last night’s meeting, the board decided some of those reductions went too far. It voted to support putting about $700,000 of expenditures back in the budget. That includes slightly smaller class sizes, keeping extended class periods at three schools and having the district continue to pay for testing fees.

CFO Mark Wilcockson says the new expenses still leaves more than $6.5 million in cuts to reduce its deficit.

"We’ve made adjustments now to these reductions to address board concerns," Wilcockson said.

The Peoria Public School Board also voted to pay for ELITE, a student behavior program, to set up at Lincoln School this fall.  The $10,000 payment allows ELITE to function as the district negotiates a formal contract.  School Board member Ernestine Jackson says the program gives needed support for the district.

“I think this is the beginning of not only ELITE, but there might also be others that want to come to this district and say ‘how can I help?’" Jackson said. 

The School Board also approved an agreement allowing ELITE to raise external funds to pay for expanding the program in other schools.

The board will approve the final 2016 budget in September.