Union teachers at Grant District 110 call for new district leadership, financial accountability

UNION TEACHERS at Grant District 110 are calling out the district’s leadership for financial woes that may lead to state supervision. – Belleville News-Democrat photo

By ELIZABETH DONALD
Illinois Correspondent

Fairview Heights, IL – Grant-Illini Federation of Teachers Local 6600, the union representing teachers at Grant District 110, are calling out the district’s leadership for financial woes that may lead to state supervision.

Grant Community Consolidated School District 110 has been designated “in financial difficulty” from the Illinois State Board of Education. It is only the second time that an Illinois district has been so designated in the last decade, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.

The district now has until April 29 to submit financial plans and might also face a financial oversight panel, as was imposed on the Venice school district in the early 2000s. Grant has been on the early warning list for years, and failed to submit financial information in a timely manner.

Grant Superintendent Matt Stines told the News-Democrat the district has submitted the documents, but that may not be enough to stave off oversight from the state.

Local 6600 says it has been “sounding this alarm” about the district’s financial position for years. The union issued a statement calling for Stines’ removal and asked for new leadership to prioritize fiscal accountability.

“Our students and community deserve transparency and accountability when it comes to how public education dollars are being spent,” said the union. “We do know the dollars aren’t being spent on teacher and staff salaries.”

LOW SALARIES
According to Local 6600, starting salaries for teachers in Grant are average, and veteran teachers are paid significantly lower than other districts – and non-certified staff don’t even receive insurance benefits. “The answers must lie elsewhere,” the union said.

According to a memo sent from the state superintendent of education and chief financial officer, the Illinois State Board of Education reached out to Stines requesting the corrected and adopted budgets for 2022, 2023 and 2024 as well as other documentation of financial audits by Dec. 15. None were provided on time, but some were submitted a few days later. As of the March 13 memo, audit management letters for 2023 still had not been received. 

The memo shows that the district has run deficits ranging from $171,588 to $1.8 million each year since at least 2018.

The Local 6600 statement calls on the Grant Board of Education to investigate why district finances are in such poor shape and work toward solutions that will improve the district.

‘ADVOCATE FOR OUR STUDENTS’
“Part of our role as educators is to advocate for our students,” the statement read. “They deserve well-resourced classrooms and responsible school leadership. They deserve teachers who are respected and given a supportive teaching environment, not a district characterized by administrative bloat and inconsistent accounting. And their parents deserve clear answers – not excuses – from Superintendent Stines as to why we are at this point.”

In calling for Stines’ removal, the union said it needs district funding to be used to increase resources for students and invest in teachers and staff, and that doing so will require “immediate change in management.”

Local 6600 is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of teachers and represents 76 teachers and non-certified staff in District 110.


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