Unit One hears financial, school safety updates
by Michele Longworth
Jan 30, 2013 | 893 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Much of Monday night’s Massac Unit One board meeting was spent hearing about the district’s finances from Unit One Superintendent Bill Hatfield, who talked at great length about how much money Unit One has been cut and what the district can expect at the end of the school year.

Hatfield had several items for the board to view, the first one being a chart listing the district’s expenditures/working funds plus cash balance for the past 10 years. According to Hatfield, at the end of the school year, there is going to be $720,000 less the state is not going to send, in addition to about $25,000 a week less the district has already been cut. He said Unit One has been cut about 11 percent in state aid. The district has also been cut in transportation and in pre-kindergarten. In all, Hatfield points out the total amount the district has been cut is about $1.4 million. He also told the board that there has even been more “talk” at the state level of cutting an additional five percent.

He likened the district’s financial situation to an automobile that’s leaking oil. According to Hatfield, by the end of the school year, the district will be down a little bit less than last year. “We have a cushion,” he said, but later told the board if it’s expecting the state to be a solution, that would not be an option.

Hatfield also showed the board the current tax rates from neighboring school districts. He pointed out that Massac Unit One’s tax rate, when compared to other districts is actually one of the lower rates, noting Unit One’s rate is currently $4.20 per $100 of assessed value. He pointed out typically a unit district’s tax rate is usually around $4, also noting that Unit One’s rate has been as low as $3.80 per $100 of assessed value.

Hatfield emphasized to the board the reason he was bringing up the tax rates was in regard to finding a way to reduce the tax rate or at least make sure it does not keep going up - without also losing additional state aid.

In the tax rate information, he pointed out Joppa-Maple Grove’s tax rate at $5.10 per $100 of assessed value and also told the board it could be worse and pointed out Cahokia’s tax rate of $11.04 per $100 of assessed value. Hatfield pointed out the reason he mentioned Cahokia is because it is a good example of how rates can explode once they reach a certain level of “distress.”

Board Chairman Mike Pullen pointed out that in the upcoming few months, a new board would be seated and expressed he would like to see the board look at some options in order to try to reverse the trend.

Hatfield also spoke briefly to update the board regarding school safety. The district had a meeting with all of Massac County’s law enforcement, which advised the school to keep all of its emergency plans the same and be as consistent as possible.

According to Hatfield, the high school and even junior high are used to having “lock down” drills, and a concern has always been whether or not to have them at the elementary level. Hatfield said there are some lock down drills being planned at the elementary level, but he cautioned the district is working on ways to be sensitive to those students.

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