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Freeport School board adopts 2020-21 budget

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The Freeport School District Board of Education approved a $188 million budget on May 12 for the 2020-21 school year, about $3 million less than what had previously been planned before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The school district also decided to increase the district’s tax levy for the first time in five years at a proposed 2.92 percent. The district previously proposed to raise the tax levy cap at 3.5 percent. The district had lowered the tax levy each of the past five years.     

District Superintendent Kishore Kuncham said that the district had to work with major cuts to its budget, including losing out on more than $2.8 million in state aid. 

While the district had hoped to create 16.5 new staffing positions — which included two assistant principal, nine teaching, one and a half teaching assistant, two coaching and two department coordinator positions — the positions have been cut from the budget.

The district also cannot transfer funds for capital, facilities, supplies and equipment until the end of the year. 

 Beth Rella, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said that despite the cuts, the district would be able to maintain all its current staff and programs. 

She warned, however, that the state has three opportunities to make additional cuts to state aid, which could add up to a 20 percent reduction for public schools. 

“Even cutting 2 percent more could be devastating for our budgets,” Kuncham said. 

Along with the budget, residents will also vote on the $2.5 million Capital Reserves Proposition No. 3, which would allow the district to spend the capital reserve funds on several renovations projects throughout the district.    

The Freeport School District will hold a public, online meeting on May 27 to continue discussing the budget and answering any questions residents might have. 

Residents can send in their questions via e-mail to broberts@freeportschools.org.  

The budget vote will be held on June 9 through absentee ballots only. Ballots will be mailed out to residents in the coming weeks.