Activities, staff reductions targets of proposed cuts

By on January 15, 2010

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—School activities and reductions in staff were among the cuts Kaneland officials brought to the board on Monday to reduce the district’s $2.6 million budget deficit for the 2010-11 school year.

The administration recommended the elimination of at least 10 teaching positions, 10 non-teaching positions and two administrative positions, spread out across the elementary, middle and high schools. In addition, the elimination of a number of programs, including competitive athletics in middle school, fifth-grade band and a number of other clubs and activities was laid out to eliminate the $2.6 million deficit.

Board member Deborah Grant reacted to the proposed elimination of the competitive sports programs at the middle school, which will be replaced with intramural programs.

“Going from competitive sports to no competitive sports,” she said. “It’s really hard to take.”

Board member Cheryl Krauspe complimented the administration on the tough choices they made in the proposed cuts.

“All of these are tough to take,” she said. “As ugly as the truth is, the model is well laid out, and it appears there was a very thoughtful process that was unbiased.”

The vast majority of the proposed cuts, totaling $1.4 million, will affect staff workload, due to class size adjustments, alternative ways to deliver selected services and the reduction of instructional supplies and administrative services, Associate Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. Efficiencies gained in operational services made up $697,000 of the cuts.

Proposed budget cuts totaling $509,000 were identified through direct reductions or eliminations of student programs.

The initial cost-reduction plan Schuler presented on Monday outlined the cuts at a general level. The administration will provide more specifics about the proposed cuts, including dollar amounts attached to each item, at the next board meeting on Monday, Jan. 25.

Schuler said that they did not propose deeper cuts than were absolutely necessary to eliminate the deficit, so if there was a decision not to implement one of the cuts, they would simply have to find somewhere else to cut.

“Whatever we pull out of this package, we would just have to redistribute the pain a little differently,” District Superintendent Charlie McCormick said.

Board member Dianne Piazza wanted to know what alternative might be put in place to minimize the impact felt by students who need the after-school homework help.

“I can see how those reductions can impact the core (of the academic curriculum)” she said.

Board member Bob Myers noted that there were no wage freezes identified in the recommendations.

Following the presentation at the Jan. 25 board meeting, members of the community will have several opportunities to provide feedback and suggestions, and ask questions, Schuler said.

The Citizens Advisory Committee will meet on Thursday, Jan. 28, to discuss the initial cost-reduction plan. Following a short board meeting on Monday, Feb. 8, the administration will host a community forum, moderated by former School Board president Steve Bauserman. The public comment period of the board meeting on Monday, Feb. 22, will provide a last chance for community feedback prior to personnel actions taken by the board.

The administration will give its final recommendations to the board in March.