Kaneland presents initial budget reduction plan

By on February 18, 2011

Summary of staffing cuts
Position Full Time Equivalent (FTE)
Certified Positions 5.9
Non-Certified Positions 0.5
Administrative Positions (District Office) 0.5
Stipend Positions (Student Activities) 31

By Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School District on Monday presented the School Board with an initial cost reduction plan that will seek to cut $1 million in expenditures for the 2012 fiscal year.

Superintendent Jeff Schuler, in his slide-show presentation to the board, explained the entire budget research process leading up to the initial reduction plan, outlining the cost-center approach used to identify necessary financial reductions at the elementary, middle school, high school and district levels.

Schuler said the process began in December 2010 with financial projections for the 2012 fiscal year.

“We began to review the targeted amounts for reduction through the financial projections,” he said. “In January, we began the process of re-identifying our cost centers, (analyzing) the budget, (reviewing) each cost center and then set the targets that we reviewed or set at our last meeting.”

A cost center breaks down the finances of each school level and identifies areas that can be reduced. The district, Citizens Advisory Committee and Finance Advisory Committee then reviewed targeted reductions before those numbers were finalized in the budget reduction plan. For example, the elementary cost center was set at $240,815 in January, but the initial cost reduction plan presented on Monday intends to reduce a 10-month secretary position to nine months, eliminate local professional development allocations, reduce kindergarten by half of a full time equivalent (FTE) position, and reduce Learning Resource Center staff by two FTE positions in order to meet a reduction total of $200,845—nearly $40,000 less than the original targeted amount.

The budget reduction plan has a middle school cost-center total of $128,148 (initial target was $127,911), a high school cost-center total of $181,882 (initial target was $169,884) and a district cost-center total of $494,641 (initial target was $461,390). The middle school and high school cost centers each call for elimination of 1.0 FTE positions.

“Over the last two years, we’ve already reduced projected expenditures by more than $5 million, and we did that with our mission statement in mind, and we did that making sure that we made every effort to preserve our core educational program and services for students,” Schuler said. “Although, again, let me say clearly that as we talked about cuts and we talked about the way that we approached cuts, we don’t take them lightly.

“We understand the cuts that we’ve made certainly have been and will continue to be painful,” he said.

Schuler’s presentation also touched upon the “triangle of savings” concept, which breaks down district expenditures into three categories: student programs, staff workload and operational services. The presentation listed a reduction of $186,397 in operational services (non-instructional supplies, early retirement options, etc.), a reduction of $805,921 in staff workload (instructional supplies, administrative services, etc.) and a reduction of just $13,159 in student programs.

“It’s difficult to continue to cut operational services; it’s difficult to continue to make programs adjustments to cut supplies and to cut things that ultimately make the staff workload more difficult,” Schuler said. “The reality is, what we ultimately are trying to avoid are cuts that directly impact our programs and services for students.”

Board President Cheryl Krauspe said she was pleased with the district’s cost reduction plan.

“I feel the administration used a very fine scalpel instead of a chainsaw when approaching these cuts,” she said. “(The cuts) were well defined and did not result in the district hemorrhaging as much as feared.”

According to the presentation, the board will be asked to approve finalized budget cuts at its meeting on March 14. Any personnel action stemming from the approved reductions will go into effect that evening.

“We have to make the most high-quality educational program as we can within the limitations and confines of a limited budget,” Krauspe said. “Those decisions on what gets funded and what does not aren’t easy, but this process has been lengthy, thorough, all-inclusive, collaborative and fair.”