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ISD166 to cut staff and programs to balance budget

ISD166 makes cuts
ISD166 makes cuts

The Cook County Schools ISD166 school board needs to make program reductions of $440,000 in school year 2010-11 to balance their budget. To do this they are reducing a number of staff hours, eliminating four teaching positions, cutting paraprofessionals, extra-curricular activities and office staff. The result accomplishes 64 percent of a two-year reductions goal totaling $682,500.

Positions that will be eliminated are elementary teachers Ann Russ, Julie Brandt and Lorelei Livingston. Mike McHugh’s position will also be eliminated in the Middle School/High School. Duty hours will be reduced among four teachers, prep time taken from two as well as classroom hours reduced for three other teachers. K-12 physical education will be restructured as will elementary music and grades 9-12 English.

Three and a half paraprofessional positions will be cut, however they have not been identified at this time. One janitorial position has been reduced. Coaching duties will be reduced somewhat and the golf program will be cut. Students can expect to pay more in activity fees and the late bus has been cut. The office staff will be reduced by one full position with reductions in two others. Superintendent benefits will also be reduced.

ISD166 has made over $900,000 in budget reductions over recent years. These include cuts in administration, building maintenance, transportation and extra-curriculars to name a few. The budget anticipates reductions in state aid, which will likely not be known until mid-May. According to Superintendent Beth Schwarz, 17 percent of state aid due the school this year is still vulnerable and not protected by statute.

Should the district’s fund balance remain stable through May, and finances be perceived as improving, the board could consider a list of prioritized “add backs” into the program. These would likely be the resumption of certain duty hours, not full teaching positions. In cases of staff reductions or eliminations, Schwarz said teacher licensure and seniority determines the choices.

In the midst of these budget cuts, the school board voted to proceed with an operating referendum this fall. An operating referendum would raise revenues to maintain the current program level, not add new programs, construction or equipment.