Editorial: Kaneland’s budget-crunch reality sets in

By on March 26, 2010

All of the budget talk, all of the numbers, all of the discussion on potential cuts became reality this week when the Kaneland School Board authorized the dismissal of 118 teachers and professionals (see related story).

These include 24 in their first year, 37 in their second, 33 in their third, and nine of the 42 Kaneland teachers and professionals in their fourth year. In addition, 15 part-time teachers also received their dismissals.

For many of these educators and professionals, approximately 60 to 70 of them, the silver lining is that they will still have a job at Kaneland in the fall. However, they will not know if they are part of the “many” who could return to Kaneland until later in the year.

The reason the district authorized the dismissal of more staff than they will ultimately need is due to contractual obligations and the need for district flexibility. The district must notify certified staff at least 45 days prior to the end of the school year that their contracts will not be renewed the following year. While Kaneland finalizes its cuts and drills down to what specific positions should be re-filled, the district has the flexibility to select from the group.

The difficulty of this type of scenario is that those who are dismissed now will not know if they have a job to come back to, and there is little they can do until they find out.

The additional difficulty is that to remain in their career field, they would be entering a job market that is seeing similar staff reductions throughout the region and the state.

In many ways, this is no different than someone losing their job in the private sector. With unemployment rates so high, there are simply too many qualified applicants for too few available positions.

This is the unfortunate reality of today’s economy and the result of government budgets that were not sustainable even when the economy was surging.

It is easy to look at all of these numbers and—whether it is unemployment numbers or school budget numbers—and forget that those numbers represent real people.

That changes when the dismissal letters are actually sent, and one begins to consider the impact that letter has on the teachers, their families and their students.

“They (teachers and other professionals) went into the profession because they were passionate about students, and we will lose that. That’s the tragedy,” Kaneland School Board member Cheryl Krauspe said during Monday’s meeting.