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Lebanon School District Confronts Dire Financial Challenges: Superintendent Amanda Ganey Charts Path Forward

Superintendent Dr. Amanda Ganey explains the situation and the school district’s multi-part, long-term plan to fix the situation that the Lebanon school district has fallen into.

In a special board meeting convened on Monday, February 12th, Lebanon Community Unit School District #9 confronted its pressing financial predicament head-on. The gathering, held in the Lebanon Elementary School gymnasium, attracted concerned residents from the community, all eager to grasp the severity of the situation and explore potential solutions.

The central figure at the meeting was Superintendent Dr. Amanda Ganey, who demonstrated her unwavering commitment to transparency and accountability in addressing the district’s financial woes. Several parents, community members and former and current teachers at the district attended, voicing their concerns over whether or not programming would be cut from the school, which in recent months was announced as a blue ribbon school. Dr. Ganey explained that at this time no current programming would change or be removed.

Drawing on her extensive experience in education and administration, Dr. Ganey articulated the gravity of the district’s financial situation, dating back to 2009, and underscored the imperative of taking decisive action to ensure its future viability.

Dr. Ganey’s presentation provided a comprehensive overview of the district’s financial history and the challenges it faces. With candor and clarity, she highlighted the district’s deficit budget, with audited financial statements revealing a concerning deficit of $93,174 and a meager operating fund balance of $38,331 against a total budget of a little over $7 million. Such figures fall significantly short of the recommended Fund Balance to Revenue Ratio of 25%, signaling the urgent need for intervention.

Projections indicate that without immediate action, the district could face a combined operating deficit nearing $300,000 by the end of fiscal year 2025. This sobering forecast underscores the critical importance of implementing strategic measures to reverse the district’s financial trajectory.

Dr. Ganey explained that although it will be painful, there will be a reduction of staff in the future. She has been and will continue to work with staff members at the school to find the best course of action when taking those steps. There could also be, in the future, a change in pay rates for staff.

Dr. Ganey emphasized the need for substantial reductions in force as a crucial step towards achieving a balanced budget within the next three years. While acknowledging the sacrifices such measures entail, she underscored the importance of preserving essential programs and services that directly impact student achievement, including STEM and guidance counseling.

Addressing concerns about projected retirements and enrollment gaps, Dr. Ganey outlined various scenarios and stressed the importance of finding a balance between fiscal responsibility and maintaining educational quality. She highlighted efforts to address enrollment gaps and the financial implications of outsourcing special education needs, emphasizing the importance of collaborative partnerships and innovative solutions.

Throughout her presentation, Dr. Ganey remained optimistic about the district’s future, emphasizing the importance of strategic planning and collective action. “We’ve got to start somewhere,” she urged, acknowledging the challenges ahead while emphasizing the need for incremental progress and shared responsibility.

In closing, Dr. Ganey reiterated her deep commitment to Lebanon School District and its mission of excellence in education. “I was given a challenge, and I was given something to help this district,” she declared. “It’s all about the kids. That’s where my heart is.”

Dr. Ganey’s impassioned plea for proactive fiscal responsibility resonated strongly with the community, urging the Board of Education to prioritize the long-term financial well-being of the district over short-term convenience. Transparency, accountability, and shared responsibility must guide their decision-making process as they navigate the challenging road ahead.

The full plan and presentation is available at: https://core-docs.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/documents/asset/uploaded_file/1050/Lebanon/4001324/LCUSD_9-_Financial_Recommendations__5_.pdf

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous on February 17, 2024 at 7:28 pm

    It’s time for Lebanon to face the facts. Try to consolidate with Mascoutah, O’Fallon or Triad and close the high school. Keeping the high school open for so few students isn’t fair to the taxpayers or the students. They are missing out on so much that other high schools can offer. Can’t even get enough kids to fill out some sports teams.
    Otherwise, try to get some of the many “disabled veterans” who aren’t paying property taxes to support the school where they are sending their kids. There are some where both parents are working full time jobs, claiming they are 100% disabled and not paying anything then are complaining of possible cuts to the school personnel and programs. Time to pay up if you able to hold down a job and get a monthly disability check.

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