An outside view of Granite City High School.
Granite City Community School District Superintendent Jim Greenwald got a chance to look back on the 2014-2015 school year when he attended the high school graduation ceremony on May 29.
“Despite all of our challenges, I labeled it as a very successful school year,” Greenwald said. “I think our students did a great job. We had a really good year with our parents and I think we still continue to provide the best education we possibly can.”
The school district received a huge blow on April 7, when its education fund rate increase referendum didn’t pass. That forced the district to make some cuts for the 2015-2016 school year.
“We cut over $817,000 worth of items for next year,” Greenwald said. “But we’re very positive. We’re moving into a positive direction. Summer school started this week, so we kind of kicked it into the summer mode and we’re looking forward to a good summer with the students at summer school. I’m looking forward to school opening for the ’15-16 school year coming up in a couple of months.”
Last week, Granite City got some good news when U.S. Steel Corp. announced the Granite City steel mill will not close and more than 2,000 workers will keep their jobs.
“As a Granite Citian, I’m thrilled that the idle is not going to take place,” Greenwald said.
But Greenwald said even though the mill will stay open, the school district still plans on making some cuts.
At the School Board meeting on May 26, school district officials announced that the alternative education program will be eliminated.
“We’re going to take that on ourselves,” Greenwald said. “That’s going to be a huge undertaking. That’s a $500,000 savings. We feel that this was something that we needed to do. We didn’t want to have to do it. But as we mentioned in the tax referendum, we’re going to have to do some things now that we weren’t in favor of.”
Greenwald said the sophomore football and sophomore basketball teams also will be eliminated. The football program will have freshman and varsity teams and the boys’ basketball program will have freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams.
“I’m hoping that the financial situation will improve so we don’t have to make additional cuts,” Greenwald said. “As we mentioned in the tax referendum presentation, there’s no guarantee that we won’t have to make deeper cuts in 2016 or 2017. Right now, that remains to be seen based upon what the financial funding will be from the state, which we will find out about later on this summer.”
Greenwald said the school district got a lot of support from the parents during the school year.
“In all of the years I’ve been involved in education, there are certain years that you have a lot of problems and a lot of issues with students,” Greenwald said. “A lot of times naturally their parents have to get involved as far as disciplinary issues and some other things. I feel that this was a very minimal year for those types of things. I think the kids came to school with a good attitude. I think a lot of that begins at home. I think a lot of meetings we had with parents were really good ones. We know finances consume our time at times, especially in this age in public education. But we can’t lose sight in educating the students and our collaboration with the parents as why we have jobs and why we have schools. I feel it was a very good positive year in that aspect.”
Greenwald said he enjoyed the high school graduation ceremony. A total of 347 students received their diplomas, including Kari Laub, who also received an associate’s degree from Southwestern Illinois College as part of the GCHS Running Start program.
“Graduation couldn’t have been better,” Greenwald said. “I want to tip my cap to (Principal) Daren DePew and (Assistant Principal) Nikki Petrillo, especially the high school along with their entire staff because I think it’s one of the nicest graduations I have ever seen. Fortunately, we had a beautiful two-hour window of nice weather to have it outside, which always makes it nice.”