Kaneland budget cuts loom in 2012

By on January 14, 2011

District seeks to limit student impact; expects to cut staff positions
by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The financial belt-tightening continues for the Kaneland School District.

The School Board, at its meeting on Monday, discussed a budget reduction process for the 2012 fiscal year, which is currently projected to have a deficit of $1 million. Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler presented a memorandum outlining a cost-center approach that will identify and target categories of expense within the budget that are necessary to cut in order to help the School District alleviate the deficit.

“An example of a cost-center category is elementary services; every dollar that we spend on elementary education within our district—whether it’s personnel, supplies or purchased services that we have—that all goes into the cost center,” Schuler said. “And then the administrators responsible for that cost center—whether it’s one of our elementary principals, assistant principals—work together with our district administrators to look at all those expenses and develop a list of budget cuts.”

Schuler said this is the second year the district has used the cost-center strategy.

“What we did last year, and what we’ll do again this year, is give each cost center a target number that we want them to reduce, and that number is generally equal to a percentage of our total reduction number,” he said. “So, as an example, if 20 percent of our budget is allocated to elementary services within the district, the target number we give them for reduction is 20 percent of $1 million, so about $200,000.”

The memorandum presented during the meeting states that the district’s priority is to limit the effect of budget cuts on student programs by first targeting areas such as operational services (non-instructional supplies, early retirement options, etc.) and staff workload. Once all the cost centers come forward with potential reductions, the district looks at the reductions and determines what will impact students within the district.

“If there’s anything we can do with operational services, we’re going to make those cuts first,” Schuler said. “And then if there are ways we can reorganize a service to do it more efficiently, that will come second. Any cuts that directly impact student programs will be made last.”

The cost-reduction plan will be presented before the School Board on Feb. 14. A final decision on all budget cuts is required by March 14.

Staff cuts are likely to be a part of that final decision, Schuler said.

“I would imagine that cutting a million dollars would be very difficult without staff cuts,” Schuler said. “When you look at what we spend money on within the district, we’re a people business-we spend about 70 percent of our budget on salaries. I think it’s a safe bet that we’re going to need to eliminate positions to reduce a million dollars.”