MAHOMET — The mood was somber Monday night as Mahomet-Seymour school board members voted 5-2 to approve a slate of staff and programming cuts aimed at reducing the district's growing budget deficit.
The cuts — which total over $700,000 — include the elimination of five elementary teaching jobs, enrichment programs at Sangamon and Lincoln Trail schools and library assistant positions across the district.
Libraries were hit particularly hard: The latest addition to the slate of cuts was a 50 percent decrease to the library budget in each school. Individual building budgets were also decreased by 3 percent.
At last month's meeting, parents and teachers pleaded with the board to reconsider cuts to library staff and enrichment — programs they said were crucial to their children's educations.
Prior to the vote, several board members indicated that they were uncomfortable with the choice they had to make.
"I have no disagreement" with the need for budget cuts, said Becky Ryherd, one of the board members who ultimately voted no on the measure. "I think where I have trouble is where we're cutting."
Superintendent Keith Oates warned that more belt-tightening would be needed if state funding doesn't return to its previous levels, estimating another possible $800,000 in cuts next year.
Mahomet-Seymour Education Association spokesman Eric Potter said after the meeting that while the association understood why cuts needed to be made and the difficulty of the board's decision, he and his fellow teachers had their fingers crossed for a different outcome.
"Honestly, we were hopeful that they would reconsider some of (the cuts)," he said.