By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer
FULTON, Ill. —
Three teacher positions were eliminated by the River Bend Board of Education on Monday night.
The board discussed the topic for almost two hours in closed session before coming back with a formal plan to cut costs for the upcoming school year. The board approved a resolution for the honorable dismissal of middle school class size reduction teacher Emily Beveroth, special education teacher Lori Wells, and physical education teacher Dustin Coit. Freshman coach positions and elementary and middle school yearbook sponsors also were eliminated. The board also approved a motion to eliminate in-town bus routes.
“We have really no alternatives,” Superintendent Chuck Holliday said in an interview after the announcement. He added this was a difficult decision made necessary by the district not receiving adequate state funding.
Holliday had initially proposed cutting five teacher positions, including the elementary school intervention teacher and the high school family and consumer sciences teacher, to save the $400,000 necessary for the upcoming budget. However, he felt those two positions offered unique educational opportunities. He also pointed out that at a Thursday public comment meeting that many people expressed a desire to see the intervention teacher stay. The board saved $300,000 from the cuts it did make and will use $100,000 from the district’s reserve fund. Cuts in education support personnel and part-time certified employees will be discussed and made at the April 15 meeting.
Members of the public made comments before the board went into closed session, with many waiting almost two hours for the decision. A majority of those speaking showed support for Coit. Students could be seen wearing homemade “Save Coit” shirts. Coit said he received many texts and calls from parents when they heard he might be dismissed.
“It just shows, I guess, what I mean to the kids that they’re willing to be here,” Coit said while waiting for the board’s determination. “I was not expecting this.”
Coit has been with the district for four years and serves as a physical education and health teacher, as well as a freshman basketball and football coach. With the elimination of his physical education and coaching positions, another teacher will take on his health class.