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Crystal Lake-based School District 155 Board approves 8 employee layoffs

Physical education teacher charged with financial exploitation among those laid off

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Community High School District 155 Board unanimously approved laying off eight employees Tuesday, including a physical education teacher facing felony financial exploitation charges.

Rick Lima was arrested in January and charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person. He is accused of stealing more than $50,000 from an elderly woman and using the money to buy a home.

District 155 officials confirmed last month that Lima, who also has coached varsity girls basketball at Prairie Ridge High School, has remained an active employee at the school. His next court appearance is scheduled for Friday.

Devin Hester, president of the District 155 Education Association, said the cuts are because of declining enrollment, which has led to fewer teachers being needed.

“That’s just the cold, hard math that comes along with it,” Hester said.

Employees who are laid off are selected based on state statute guidelines and student choice, depending on the courses they select to take, District 155 Superintendent Steve Olson said. The district is down by 140 students for the upcoming school year, Olson said.

The district had 6,277 students enrolled in its schools during the 2016-17 academic year, according to Illinois Report Card, and Olson predicts that the district currently has about 5,930 students.

Enrollment is forecast to decrease in a 2015 Kasarda enrollment study, and four administrative staff employees also are being cut in 2019, assistant superintendent of finance and operations Jeremy Davis said.

The layoffs are effective at the end of the school year.

Prairie Ridge High School will lose four employees, Crystal Lake South High School will lose three, and Cary-Grove High School will lose one. Five of the employees worked full time, and three worked part time, Olson said.

One of the layoffs includes Prairie Ridge High School boys basketball coach Corky Card, who has held the position since 2003.

Last March, Card was told that he only would have two classes during this school year and he wouldn’t be retained as boys basketball coach. The coach’s friends and longtime supporters were vocal about their disapproval of his dismissal at the time.

The district later experienced unforeseen staff movement, however, and in June, Card learned he would be brought back as a full-time teacher and coach.

Rebecca Adams, Sarah Eastham, Erin Scott, Matthew Swedberg, Haley Wickstrom and Bradley Delisle also were laid off, according to district documents.

Olson said he is not sure how much the district will save from the layoffs.

“We don’t look at it that way. That’s never our intent,” Olson said. “We’d love to see our enrollment not decline and to keep all of our folks employed.”

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