Dunlap School District removes budget cuts proposal, some still upset it was ever brought up

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DUNLAP, Ill. (WMBD) — The Dunlap Community Unit Schools District is deciding not to move forward with proposed budget cuts to certain staff, curriculum, and programs, but there are still those with hard feelings toward the school board.

For months, since the idea was brought up, it’s been weighing on the minds of many parents, students, staff, and faculty.

The district’s Wednesday night school board meeting kicked off with Superintendent Scott Dearman addressing the elephant in the room.

“One of the items that was on the agenda that is no longer there, obviously the budget cuts that was topic that we’ve been discussing for quite some time,” Dearman said.

Dearman said new information has come to light, such as federal assistance, that’s helped the district avoid making those cuts. He said the district is expected to receive about $1.17 million from the second round of stimulus money.

“That money of course has stipulations tied to it, but some of those stipulations are things that we were going to need to do anyway within the district with local dollars,” Dearman said. “So, that’s certainly going to help our bottom line.”

He also said their initial projections were made during uncertain and concerning times and have since changed.

“Fortunately, it’s a good thing. Things have actually come in better than projected,” Dearman said. “First example is the property taxes.”

He said there have been additional external and internal factors, such as making cuts to transportation and operations and maintenance, that’s led to the board’s decision to remove the proposed cuts.

However, despite the encouraging news for the district, there were still those in attendance, like senior Elijah Clar, who still feel raw about the proposals.

“I understand that this is no longer an action item, but I must ask why it was one to begin with,” Clar said. “The back and forth on cuts that this board has done this year is completely unacceptable.”

The original proposed cuts would affect staff, arts, technology and counseling programs.

Clar said some of the programs, such as language, are essential to student development and should have never been considered for cuts. Another person addressing the board, Linda Smith, said she believed the community was given inaccurate information and wants the board to own it.

“What I would like to see is some accountability somewhere and a statement to the public on some sort of process or checks and balances so that this mistake doesn’t repeat itself,” Smith said. “A lot of people were hurt. A lot of students, the teachers.”

Dearman said there are still some unknowns out there such as when they would receive additional funding. He said the Illinois State Board of Education told him the district should get the second round of stimulus money before this fiscal year ends.

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