District 300 to use federal funds for teacher pay
Funding from the federal jobs bill could help Community Unit District 300 put a dent in its multimillion-dollar budget deficit for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
The district is set to receive about $1.05 million from the federal government's $26 billion payout to states for teachers and other government workers. District officials said that money likely will be spent on paying teachers' overload pay, which is given to teachers with more than 28 students in the classroom.
"Overload pay is a new expense for us, District 300 Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Crates said. "We had to increase class sizes and this fit in with the criteria of the jobs bill. Hiring back teachers only to fire them again in May is not a good solution.
Teacher overload payments are made quarterly. Crates said the district would submit expenditures to the state until the allocation is exhausted.
The district is about $6.3 million in the red, with teacher overload pay projected to cost the district about $2.3 million for the 2010-2011 school year, Crates said. The funding will reduce that deficit to about $5.3 million.
Although the district could have spent the money in a variety of ways, including hiring new teachers, school board president Joe Stevens said erasing the district's shortfall is the district's main objective.
"We are already in a deficit so it is better to use it to reduce that deficit, he said. "It is only $1 million and it will help us, but it certainly will not get us out of the red.
The district's projected deficit is also predicated upon the state paying the district what it still owes, which is about $6.5 million, Stevens said. That means the district's budget shortfall could potentially double if the state fails to pay.
The school board is expected to take action on the federal jobs bill allocation at its next board meeting on Oct. 25.