Two metro-east teachers are among the finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year.
Sina Rowe is a kindergarten to third grade special education teacher at Goshen Elementary School in Edwardsville. Donna Whitaker teaches seventh grade Science at West Junior High School in Belleville.
They're among 11 finalists named Monday by state education officials. The winner will be announced at an October banquet in Normal.
Other finalists: John Bierbaum at Normal Community West High School in Normal, Mark Buesing at Libertyville High School in Libertyville, Amanda Dearmond at DuQuoin Middle School in DuQuoin, William Fritz at Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, DeLores Mannes at Parker Junior High School in Flossmoor, Kerry (Fran) Meyers at Brimfield Grade School in Brimfield, Pam Reilly at Woodbury Elementary School in Sandwich, Aaron Sitze at Oregon High School in Oregon and Amy Walsh at Tioga School in Bensenville.
But the budget proposed by Governor Pat Quinn would cut education spending by more than $300 million.
Many Illinois school districts are already operating on deficits after the state failed to fully fund its obligations for the past two years. Virtually every metro-east district is laying off teachers in anticipation of less state funding next year. Some are cutting sports programs and closing schools.
St. Clair County schools superintendent Susan Sarfaty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that "Districts are no longer cutting fat from their budgets — they’re cutting bone." Sarfaty says "there's no more fat to cut."
District 118 will lay off six teachers and 20 staff members. The state of Illinois owes the district nearly two-million dollars.
In Highland, several teachers are being let go, but the specifics haven't been released.
Earlier this week, officials with Belleville District 201 and the Collinsville School District announced layoffs.