ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Forest Preserve of Winnebago County(FPRWC) held a special board meeting Wednesday night. Only one topic was on the table, their decision to terminate the agreement between them and Severson Dells Education Foundation(SDEF).
Both sides say that it is mainly budgetary reasons for why the agreement is currently in limbo. However, it is clear both hope to move forward together.
“The Forest Preserves has agreed to be contributing financially to the organization moving forward. We just don’t know what that looks like, how much that’s going to be moving forward. So they are still committed to helping us financially and obviously we have access to the forest preserve property,” said Vice President of SDEF Catherine Povalitis.
The Forest Preserve currently employs all of SDEF’s paid staff. Over the year the non-profit does contribute to a portion of that pay. If the current agreement is terminated SDEF will absorb all the responsibility for those employees.
“Bottom line we want the Severson staff taken care of. They are the individuals that provide the amazing educational opportunities to the community. Our goals moving forward, is to make sure they are supported and also that the community can receive all the programs and that it benefits both Severson Dells the Forest Preserve and ultimately the community at large,” Povalitis said.
The Forest Preserve recognizes the importance of SDEF saying on their website that the foundation provides some of the best education and programs especially in nature for the community.
“We are gonna continue to work with the forest preserve to determine a partnership that works best for Forest Preserve also Severson Dells, but ultimately what we do is for the community,” Povalitis said.
The meeting was filled with volunteers and employees of SDEF. Their was one public speaker, volunteer of SDEF, Brendan Noble.
“Why not tighten the vague and and improvable aspects of this agreement instead of cutting Severson’s staff loose and creating a distraction that pulls them away from their educational goals,” Noble said.
The two sides had an agreement in 2012 that the FPWC said was not fully approved by their board. FPWC posted on their website more reasons why they have decided to terminate the agreement.
The meeting ended with both sides at a stand still and will continue to discuss an agreement moving forward. The termination is effective March 19th.