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Galesburg School District Finalizes Cuts to Budget

T.J. Carson
Superintendent Ralph Grimm started the budget cutting process in October with a committee of community members to assess what they felt was important for the district to fund.

Members of the community pleaded to Galesburg School Board members for 75 minutes Wednesday night to reconsider cuts to personnel and programs.  But it was to no avail as the board moved ahead with the cuts.

“Being a leader isn’t about talking,” Carole Buebe told the board. “It’s about listening. And you need to listen to what these people are telling you about these cuts.”

The majority of comments from the public focused on a need to save extracurricular programs in the district, like music, arts, language clubs, and more. There were also numerous calls for more administrative cuts.

After the public comment portion of the meeting ended, the board went ahead with the 76 votes to cut the budget. The cuts include the elimination of 49 full and part-time positions, including 16 teachers.

Superintendent Ralph Grimm said the cuts and other measures taken by the board will save the district around $2.6 million next fiscal year. The original goal when the process started in October was $2 million in cuts, with projections as high as $3.2 million.

Grimm said he felt the board had done its job. But he said outside factors, such as the state budget stalemate, could derail that.

“We did what we need to do to preserve and protect this district to keep it viable for the next 10 years, as long as the bottom doesn’t completely fall out on funding. And until our legislative leaders and the governor get their act together, I can’t stand up here tonight and tell you with confidence that that’s not going to happen,” Grimm said.

Board member Tianna Cervantez became emotional as she explained that the cuts were not taken lightly.

“One of the things that we are required to do is to make sure that our district is viable. And to be responsible to tax payers. So while I understand that there some voices out there who are saying that we didn’t seek the highest tax levy possible, I have to be responsible to all community members,” Cervantez said.

The district might not be done with budget cuts. The board will consider spending on athletics at its March meeting.