Well, tonight's the night for the big decision on the $5.7 million in stimulus money.
The money will be used to pay for current jobs, but once the district gets its reimbursement check, Superintendent John Harper and his administration want to use the money to restructure a land loan.
In turn, by using the stimulus money to pay off the principal upfront and restructure the land loan, the district will be able to free up about $200,000 annually which equates to three to four teaching jobs saved in the long-term.
"This affords us the opportunity to pay down that note and it levels our payments and we avoid that $2.3 million balloon in 2015," Harper said.
Or the board can choose to use some or all of the $5.7 million to save jobs on the chopping block for next school year, giving staff a reprieve for one year until next year when about $10 million will have to be cut.
The board plans to make a decision on budget cuts at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the auditorium of Plainfield North High School, 12005 S. 248th St.
So here's where the board members stand as of last week.
School board President Stuart Bledsoe: SAVE JOBS
"You want to tell people we are going to get surplus money only if we cut (112 jobs? I ain't doing it. There is no such thing as surplus dollars when you're ... in the hole," Bledsoe said last month.
Vice-president Dave Obrzut: UNDECIDED
"I would prefer to see more information on it. It is a very hard question to answer simply because I don't want to see a single job lost. Having said that, let's be realistic now, we are in deficit mode here. I would like to keep as many people employed as I can," Obrzut said. "I want to use it where it will save the most jobs and do the most good."
Secretary Mike Kelly: RESTRUCTURE LAND LOAN
"If we have the balloon payment coming, I think it is going to have an impact on jobs in the future as well," Kelly said. "We believe we have this flexibility built into the law which was not true with other money that we received. We need to take advantage of it for the long-term financial health of the school district. If we don't do the cuts ... then we have to cut $10 million next year."
Michelle Smith: SAVE JOBS
"I like us to use as much money as we can for jobs. I'm OK with some of the money being used for other things if we feel that's the most fiscally responsible thing for us to do," Smith said. . But, I feel (we need) to use some of it to save jobs because that's the intent of the money ... Even if they say we can use it all for land, I still don't feel that's what it all should be used for."
Eric Gallt: RESTRUCTURE LAND LOAN
"I wanted it to be used in an efficient manner so we can stretch it out. I wouldn't bring back the positions that we recommended for removal because I don't want to get in the situation that we are cutting 100 jobs next year," Gallt said. "I think for the sanity of our staff that we get to the point that we are not continually cutting jobs. It is very stressful."
Roger Bonuchi: UNDECIDED
"I'm tending to lean on the side of using the money as extra money so we don't have to lay-off as many people. I'm kind of leaning in that direction. I'm betting that the landscape of our income is going to be more positive next year," Bonuchi said. "If you are one of the people getting laid off, you would probably want another year. If you're one of those people getting laid off , you're not really caring about whether that money gets used to pay off a land debt."
Rod Westfall: SAVE JOBS:
"I will vote to put staff back in. I fought for this last year. Especially in the high schools where you have 2,000 kids - we need support services," Westfall said. "I'm hoping to see as many jobs saved as possible. It is my belief that's what (the stimulus money) was intended for."
The board met in closed session Thursday night to talk about specific jobs and decide what they are doing tonight so maybe some of the members changes their minds once they received more answers.
It will be interesting to see what happens. There are many employees and taxpayers who would like to see the money used to save jobs for one more year.