Headlines for Wednesday, August 9, 2017

FAIRFIELD HIGH SCHOOL IN FUNDING CRISIS – The Fairfield Community High School called a special meeting Tuesday evening to assess the district’s finances and options as a result of the lack of Illinois General State Aid.  Although the state of Illinois has passed a budget, the mechanism used to actually fund public schools has not been implemented. In addressing the board, Supt. Jill Fulkerson stated, “It is appalling that our elected officials are using our children as pawns in this budget crisis and I implore us not to perpetuate the situation by creating controversy within our community.”   Fairfield Community High School’s revenue is comprised of 57% state funding, 35% local funding and 8% federal funding. The first general state aid payment is usually dispersed on August 10. The amount dispersed last year was approximately $82,000 and that is dispersed twice per month.  Supt. Fulkerson stated that without the necessary funding mechanism in place, this aid will not be dispersed to schools. The total requested levy for Fairfield Community High School is $1.8 million. However, the arrival of those payments are usually not expected until November or December.   FCHS currently has $1.4 million in reserves, which would provide 136 calendar days into the school year – or until Dec. 22.

Without state aid, the FCHS district has three options – according to Supt. Fulkerson. First – The district can start school on time and spend down its reserves. It could possibly take a decade to replenish those reserves, and would more than likely place the district on the state’s financial watch list.

Second – The district could start school on time but make drastic cuts including sports and extra-curricular activities.

Or Third – Not Start School until state aid starts flowing again.

There was a lot of discussion during Tuesday night’s meeting, but no action was taken on any of those three options.  It is expected there will be another special board meeting in the coming days as the start of school draws closer.  If the state legislature cannot solve this issue by next week, Supt. Fulkerson says the board will be forced to choose one of those three options.

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Longtime Fairfield municipal employee Bruce McKibben has been named lead-man at the Fairfield Water Filtration Plant.  McKibben will take over the position from David Boyd when he retires later this year. No votes on the appointment came from Aldermen Ralph Barbre and Ed Prince.

At this month’s meeting of the North Wayne School Board, members approved the hiring of Rebecca Boss as a Cisne High School science teacher and Morgan Gregory as Cisne Middle School assistant softball coach.

The Albion City Council has awarded a bid to construct new sidewalks in front of the Albion Medical building and Rigg Pharmacy.  Keiffer Brothers Construction of Mt. Carmel was awarded the contract at a cost of $51,535.

Frontier Community College is hosting a Solar Eclipse Safe Viewing event on Monday, August 21 from noon until 3 p.m.  The Fairfield area is expected to experience 98% coverage of the total eclipse with 100% expected in the Carbondale area.  Eclipse glasses will be available for safe viewing. Area grade school and high school classes, along with the general public are invited to participate.

Ill. Rt. 14 at the viaduct in McLeansboro will be closed to traffic from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. this Thursday to allow Ill. Dept. of Transportation officials to mill the roadway surface.