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Struggling Cahokia schools could go without sports

CAHOKIA, Ill. (AP) — A southwestern Illinois school district is blaming shortcomings in state funding for its tentative plan to eliminate dozens of teaching jobs and go next school year without an athletics director, coaches or extracurricular activities.

The Cahokia School District 187's board unanimously agreed Monday night to the possible cuts, which would target 52 teachers, administrators, some 40 coaches and about two dozen noncertified workers.

Superintendent Art Ryan said a final decision in the 4,000-student district won't come until the state signs off on a budget. The state is $1.2 million behind in payments to the district, and failing to make cuts would mean the district would run out of money in a year, Ryan said.

Ryan said the board needed to address the cuts Monday to legally give affected employees a 45-day notice in the school system that has roughly 600 employees, including 275 teachers.

"As of right now, it all is precautionary," added Ryan, a former high school math teacher and teachers' union president who's been superintendent for about a year. "Everything that was done tonight was done with the worst-case scenario in mind."

"It's very depressing and very hard to keep motivated," he added. "But I have a lot of confidence in the staff and the teachers in the district. They understand that it is not an act of the board. We're being mandated to deal with the fact that unfortunately we live in a state that is broke."

Leslie Harder, president of the Cahokia Federation of Teachers Local 1272, credited the school board with doing the best they can with the education budget cuts from the state.

"The overall affect is pretty grim for our students and district," Harder said.

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