Got ideas? Unit 5 seeks public input on plans for 'long-term, financial stability'
McLean County's largest school district is facing a multimillion-dollar deficit in its education fund — and now it's asking the public to weigh-in on proposed solutions.
Superintendent Kristen Weikle said during a board meeting Wednesday night that community members will have three opportunities to voice their opinions on various solutions the district is considering to address an $11 million hole in its budget.
- Saturday, April 23 -11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Normal West High School, 501 N. Parkside Road, Normal.
- Monday, April 25 - 6 to 7:30 p.m. - Kingsley Junior High School, 303 Kingsley St., Normal.
- Tuesday, April 26 - 6 to 7:30 p.m. - Virtual Meeting - pre-registration required
"We have a lot of decisions to make and a lot of community voices to hear," school board president Amy Roser said during the meeting. "If you have feelings or thoughts of what you want the district of Unit 5 to look like, there's community engagement sessions where you can express that voice and help shape that future."
Despite cutting $2 million already via the elimination of Unit 5's eighth grade foreign language option, three dozen teaching positions and two administrator roles, the district’s fiscal 2023 budget still is saddled with an $11 million deficit.
That deficit is on a five-year trajectory to be close to $26 million, Roser said Wednesday.
Originally, the board had proposed cutting the district's elementary music program as an additional cost-cutting measure, but decided against the move after hundreds of people showed up in protest at its March 9 meeting.
In a previous interview with WGLT, board member Barry Hitchins said the district needed more public input on what is expected from the county's largest school district.
It's a public conversation that could lead to a referendum — in which voters are asked to send more tax money to Unit 5.
"I think it's the simple fact that people over the years have gotten used to school districts just kind of moving along,"he said at the time. "Community engagement, civic engagement, is a good thing. We want people to talk to us. We want people to tell us what's important."