State bombshell could double deficit

By on February 19, 2010

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—State budget woes will soon become Kaneland’s problem, as the district’s budget shortfall could grow to nearly $5 million.

Late last week, the administration learned of the Illinois State Board of Education’s published budget scenarios for the coming fiscal year, which would translate to a loss of state aid of up to $2.2 million for 2010-11.

Facing a potential loss of state funding ranging from $1.4 million to $2.2 million, the Kaneland School District will need to come up with a plan for next year’s budget that will include further reductions in teaching positions, Kaneland School District administrators told the School Board on Tuesday.

The School Board’s recent discussions regarding proposed budget cuts addressed the initial $2.6 million budget deficit. The additional shortfall in funding from the state could nearly double that number, creating a hole in the budget as high as $5 million, administration officials told the School Board on Tuesday.

With a total budget of $48 million, the potential cuts would make up a full 10 percent of the district’s budget.

Although Kaneland officials have not been given any specific information about funding cuts from the state of Illinois, a call placed to the district’s financial advisers, PMA, confirmed that they had heard the same projection.

“It is important to know that while all of this information is still preliminary, it is the first time Kaneland has seen a real number representing a potential loss in state funds,” Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Jeff Schuler said.

District Superintendent Charles McCormick said that the district must develop contingency plans within the next month that would address the huge potential shortfall, given that any personnel cuts for next year must be communicated by March 22.

Using a worst-case scenario, McCormick said that if the administration could come up with $700,000 in non-teaching cuts, it would still require that they find another $1.5 million cuts in teaching staff. With each teaching position averaging $50,000, this would be the equivalent of cutting 30 additional teaching positions.

“The state is in abysmal condition,” he said. “We’d better plan accordingly.”

The board will discuss the proposed reductions in force that will give them the flexibility to respond to the state funding crisis. The board will discuss the plan, what school officials are calling phase two, at the next School Board meeting on Monday, Feb. 22.