The Macomb School District asked for – and received – plenty of community input to help close a budget gap for next year.
Hundreds of people took part in a community forum that generated hundreds of ideas. And the district will continue to accept input until November 22 through a form on its website.
“I think the process is better by involving all the stakeholders in the community. (By) looking at what their suggestions are you’re going to come up with a list that will be far more supported in the end than if you did it on your own,” said Superintendent Patrick Twomey.
Dr Twomey emphasized he is not abdicating his responsibility by asking for input. He said it’s still up to him to develop recommendations for the Board of Education. He hoped to bring a list to the board this winter.
Until then, he’ll be reviewing the budget and considering the community input.
“You’re looking for creative ideas that have the least amount of impact in the classroom,” Twomey said.
The ideas from the forum were written down on oversized post-it notes measuring roughly two-feet by three-feet. As a sheet filled up, it was posted to the wall outside Fellheimer Auditorium and a new sheet was started.
Those sheets are now with the superintendent.
Some of the suggestions called for cuts, such as eliminating travel and requiring every activity to make a reduction.
Others called for increasing revenue.
“When our public nursing home was going under and needed revenues, we decided to tax ourselves,” said Gayle Richardson. “So why couldn’t we do that with our public education?”
Other revenue generating ideas include corporate sponsorships, “pay to play” for all activities, and a capital fundraising campaign.
Others suggested consolidation, more partnerships with Western Illinois University and Spoon River College, a restructuring of transportation stops, a four-day school week with extended hours, and intramural sports instead of team sports for the junior high.
Twomey has not yet determined how large of a budget gap will need to be filled.