• Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

Unit five presents referendum case to neighborhood enterprise leaders


Mar 17, 2023

As the second vote on Unit 5’s referendum draws closer, superintendent Kristen Weikle presented the district’s status to the neighborhood enterprise neighborhood Thursday evening at Heartland Neighborhood College.

Held in cooperation with the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, the meeting also was an chance to ask queries of Weikle and chief economic officer Marty Hickman.

A thriving referendum on April four would enable the district to pull itself out of a $12 million deficit hole, reinstate numerous cuts planned for the 2023-24 college year, and preserve the offerings now in location, say Unit five leaders.

But if voters reject the referendum a second time — as they did in November — Unit five warns of big cuts, like shrinking employees by extra than 200 teachers, eliminating extracurriculars at schools, and cutting back on offerings such as P.E, music, art and extra, for starters.

When a handful of of the approximate 35 attendees at Thursday’s meeting spoke explicitly for or against the referendum, far extra had been interested in facts of the district’s economic approach.

Also present had been Unit five college board incumbent candidate Amy Roser and former state Rep. Dan Brady, who each stressed that greater outreach could make matters like the referendum simpler to determine in the future.

The notion that poor communication to the public sank the initially referendum has been echoed by Unit five officials across several meetings. In this case, Weikle provided it as an explanation for why the referendum language has not changed for the second vote.

Tom Carey, formerly a college board member in Extended Island, proposed an alternate explanation.

“I believe I would be OK with it (the second referendum) if it came with some compromise, some amendment, to it. But rather, my cynical outlook on it is that it is taking benefit of the truth that fewer people today are going to vote, and mainly because that vote was reasonably close back in November,” referring to the 53.7% of voters who rejected the referendum then.

Weikle maintained the district is asking only for what it desires to prevent an unpopular set of cuts that will take location in the subsequent year if the referendum fails once more. In response to queries of debt, Weikle confirmed that if funding is not authorized, the district may possibly be forced to borrow once more to spend mandated costs, as it did in 2018.

In contrast, with a passed referendum the district says it will quickly spend off outstanding debts and allocate extra income to education, along with a reduce in all round house tax in the coming years.

Commerce Bank president J Phillips supports the referendum to prevent forcing the district back into borrowing.

“The reality of the circumstance is I think the district will require to borrow (if the referendum fails), which was confirmed with my query tonight,” he stated. “And with that, we’re going to see extra of exactly where we’ve been versus attempting to move forward. Why spend interest when we can really spend for our kids’ future?”

Early voting is underway for the April four election.

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