Friday, November 18, 2005

District 86 ponders $1.1 million in staff cuts

Another school board does the right thing. After a survey only 40% of voters said they were willing to pay an increase in taxes. This school board did the right thing and is not going to run a referendum in March 2006. This article appeared in the November 17th edition of The Doings What a great story.

District 15 McHenry, District 50 Harvard and District 300 Carpentersville/Algonquin in past elections have heard the voters and they said No. Will these boards continue to divide their communities or will they reject the idea of running referenda next spring?

District 86 ponders $1.1 million in staff cuts

Nine teachers could be eliminated as part of the cuts to head off a $1.1 million deficit projected in 2006-07 for Hinsdale High School District 86.

District 86 finance committee Chairman Mark Emmons said Friday that the cuts include several support staff positions, four coaching jobs and the sponsorship of several clubs and activities. District administrators are suggesting the cuts, but no specific positions have been identified, he added.

"The potential cuts could be fairly significant," Emmons said. "It's never easy."

Superintendent Nicholas Wahl said Monday that he also plans to outline other ways to decrease spending. That report is scheduled to be presented at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, at Hinsdale Central High School, 55th and Grant streets.

To balance next year's budget, board members agreed in October to trim programs rather than pursue a March referendum to generate more tax revenue. A September survey reported only 40 percent of voters were willing to pay more in taxes to offset increased operating expenses.

The board had been prepared to reduce spending by $2 million -- one estimate of next year's budget deficit. But a revised forecast decreased the estimated shortfall to $1.1 million, Wahl said.

Budget deficits are projected to continue. Officials are expecting a $4.1 million deficit in 2007-08 and a $4.5 million deficit in 2008-09. By 2008-09, the district's fund balances won't be able to offset the deficit and the district will be $377,000 in the hole, according to projections.

Emmons said board members will consider how budget cuts will affect class sizes, especially classes with low enrollments, such as advanced placement mathematics and foreign language.

"If we eliminate or target classes with low enrollment, then only Spanish would be offered at Hinsdale South, for example," Emmons said. "No, that's not acceptable."

Currently, French, German, Spanish and Latin are offered at Hinsdale Central and South high schools.

Emmons said the board's budgeting process takes four months, and several factors complicate the process.

In December, the federal government will release the consumer price index, an essential piece for calculating district revenue next year. Tax cap laws limit the increase in the district's tax levy to 5 percent, or the previous year's CPI, whichever is lower, plus an amount for new growth. The 2004 CPI is 3.3 percent.

Another factor will be the new contract to be negotiated with district teachers, Emmons said. In March, negotiations are expected to begin to replace the current three-year contract, which expires at the end of the school year.

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