EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) -- Hundreds of East St. Louis school employees will be laid off next year, including more than 130 teachers, officials said.
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The cuts will affect nearly 300 employees in District 189, including 134 teachers along with administrators, social workers and counselors. The district is the largest employer in East St. Louis, one of the nation's poorest cities, and serves more than 8,000 students.
The state owes the district as much as $6 million. East St. Louis Supt. Theresa Saunders said school leaders "can't do what we can't pay for." Some positions will be cut by early retirement, and all administrative salaries will be frozen for next year.
"We've had to dip into our reserve to keep the district afloat, provide services to young people, keep young people working, and we can't afford to keep doing that at the rate that we're doing it," Saunders said after the state Board of Education approved the cutbacks.
Teachers union president Sharon Crockett called the situation "unfortunate." She said she hopes there's a chance laid-off staff can be recalled.
If the layoffs stand, "some of the special things we do for students would have to be cut out," Saunders said. "We'd really have to focus on just the bare bones curriculum."