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United School District Update

Representatives from a solar power company spoke at United School District’s most recent board meeting to discuss installing solar arrays on two of United’s campuses.

No upfront costs would be charged on the school district, but the district would need to obtain investors. Superintendent Jeff Whitsitt says a reduced rate would save the school district, “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Superintendent Whitsitt says solar arrays will help with the district’s power bills:

“In this era of increasing costs, we are talking about trying to save some money on our energy bills. Solar arrays are one option for that,” states Whitsitt.

The United School District will compare with another vendor next month.

Three increases in the State of Illinois’ minimum wage are making United School District prepare for the costs.

Superintendent Jeff Whitsitt says that a $200,060 budget increase in new money would be needed for United’s non-certified staff if the minimum wage was increased today to $15.

Superintendent Whitsitt says there are some tough decisions ahead:

“I will be the first one to admit, we have a lot of people doing a lot of work for us that we do not pay what they are worth. If you were to ask me a value on what some people bring to the table for us, it is not near what it should be. The market is what it is and school finances as complicated as we want to make it, is not that complicated. We have this much money and it’s a decision as to where you spend it,” Whitsitt says.

The United School District still has a fund balance, but they are “chipping away” at it.

The second mental health discussion hosted by Prairie Communications is coming up and United School District will have a representative to replace Superintendent Jeff Whitsitt.

Makahla Shurtz, West Elementary Counselor, will be at the discussion. Shurtz has developed a social and emotional learning curriculum that has been implemented at United Elementary schools on a weekly basis.

Superintendent Whitsitt has high praise for Shurtz:

“I think she will bring a lot to the table. Hopefully she will gain a lot of information and all the other participants too. We are glad to be sending her, like I said, I think the whole group will be better off having her there than me anyway,” Whitsitt shares.

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