By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON —
On Election Day, voters in the Farrington school district approved a $150,000 cash bond to be taken out by the district.
Farrington Grade School Superintendent Sandra Cabat said the working cash bond will be used and paid back over a period of three years in order to help balance the school’s budget.
“It will be used to pay the general education expenses ... it is for our education fund, to pick up any negative in the education fund,” she said.
Kabat said the school board could have chosen to pass an action item about the $150,000 bond without going to the voters, but they decided to put the question on the ballot.
“We wanted the people of Farrington Township to have a say in the future of the school,” she said. “It will raise taxes in the next three years, but we have a very low tax rate.”
Late payments from the state to the school’s education fund are a big reason the school needed to procure the bonds, Kabat said, but prorating of the fund and the transportation fund are also a large part.
“We are getting 89 percent of what we should be getting (in the education fund),” she said. “Our transportation payments are done the same way. $50,000 a year will hopefully help us to make up that difference, and we hope to manage to where only need to use $50,000 for next three years.”
The question was approved with 67.7 percent yes votes in the district. Kabat said she had a feeling, based on the people she’d spoken with, that the question would pass.
“We had two public meetings in the summertime and presented them a good picture of our financial situation,” she said, adding that those who attended the public meeting were shown the difference between their current tax rate and that of Mt. Vernon and Wayne City areas.
“The people unanimously said that evening, let’s raise our taxes and try to keep the school open,” she said. “Having this bond will buy us a little time to see what the state’s going to do.”
The working cash bond will be repaid in three years, Kabat said. Whether the tax increase becomes permanent in the school district will be incumbent upon how the payment of school funds from the state goes, she said.
Though the Farrington district was hurting from the lack of funding, like many other districts in Illinois, it was not in immediate danger of closing, Kabat said.
“We would have had to made cuts that would have hurt our quality of education, but wanted to keep our quality up,” she said. “That’s something people are concerned about, that we have good, quality education. They didn’t want to risk having less quality for students.”
Some cuts were made this year, she added — one bus route and one teaching position — but if the ballot question hadn’t passed, another cut to a teaching position may have been necessary.
Farrington School serves 65 students at this time, Kabat said.