Canton Schools unanimously vote to separate with paraprofessionals

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CANTON, Ill. (WMBD)– Canton Union School District #66 voted unanimously Monday evening to authorize “the honorable dismissal of all Canton Union School District paraprofessionals.” It’s dismissed 60 Paraprofessionals, 17 reading aides, and 9 bus monitors.

Paraprofessionals in the school systems provide instructional, language, behavioral, physical, and mental support to students.

President Leonard Barnard, Vice President Jane Lewis, Board Members Matt Kees, Ben Bishop, Tom Snowman, and Mike Krulac all voted for the authorization.

“It’s similar to what we did before when we [inaudible] the reading aids and the [inaudible] monitors,” said Barnard. “Because we know what’s going to happen, we’re going to bring back the paraprofessionals so that we’ll have the best learning environment we can possibly give. It’s going to be the same scenario for the reading aids, paraprofessionals. We’re bringing them all back together, so we can give the best education that we can to our students in Canton.”

Below is a statement from Superintendent Rolf Sivertsen:

The COVID 19 Virus has created a devastating loss in revenue for the state and school districts. For example, Canton Schools is projecting a 30% reduction in its Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax due to the virus. Further exacerbating the crisis is the closure of the Duck Creek Plant within the Canton School District. Prior to the closure, the plant owner, Vistra Energy, has stated they will seek a reduction in the property tax assessment of the plant after the 2020 Tax Year Levy is filed. Vistra has estimated that the adjustment would be an assessment reduction of 80%. That reduction translates into a loss of revenue for the Canton School District of nearly 900k. Equally disturbing are state revenue projections for FY 21 & FY 22.

On Wednesday, April 16th Governor Pritzker was quoted as projecting a state budget deficit of $7.4 billion dollars over two years (2.7 Billion this year and 4.6 next year) due to a loss of revenue attributed to the COVID 19 Virus. If the state is unable to recapture a loss of revenue of this
magnitude it may be reasonably assumed that education budget cuts will be inevitable. It should also be noted that the blended model does not require the same staffing levels of a traditional teaching model.

It is important to remember that under a blended model no more than 50% of our students will be in attendance on any given day. In addition, some parents have indicated they do not feel comfortable sending their children to school in the absence of a COVID vaccine. Consequently, without a firm knowledge of district attendance patterns, it is challenging for the district to project appropriate staffing levels. If we maintain the current staffing levels and return to school under a blended model, the Canton School District may incur a revenue loss of nearly 1.8 million dollars. Most importantly, the district also does not currently possess the capacity to reconfigure its current cost structure to recapture a revenue loss of that significance. In addition to the honorable dismissal of educational support staff, the district is also reviewing the administrative cost structure and eliminated plans to employ an instructional coach.

Finally, the district is also reviewing all vacancies to determine if they will be filled in the fall.
In closing, the district anticipates many of the employees to be recalled once student attendance patterns are determined. The school board has also committed to the recall of as many employees as feasibly possible. The district values and cherishes all employees and will do everything possible to get as many of our employees back to work this fall. COVID 19 has been a devastating virus to the entire country.

Superintendent Rolf Sivertsen, Canton Union School District #66

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, and represents good news for our nation’s schools. This bipartisan measure reauthorizes the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s national education law, and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students.

Under ESSA, paraprofessionals provide teaching support and must have a high school diploma (or its equivalent) and also meet one of these requirements:

  • Finished two years of study at a college or technical school; or
  • Hold at least an associate’s degree; or
  • Be able to show, through a formal state or local academic assessment, that they know about and can assist in reading, writing, and math instruction

Discussion on the paraprofessional separation begins at 1:37:37.

This story will be updated.

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