There are more staff cuts this year compared to previous years because the district is in a deficit. (B. Corbin/WJBC)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
BLOOMINGTON - The District 87 school board has approved of 33 staff cuts as part of the annual reduction in force.
The RIF list is produced every year as a result of funding issues, the loss of programs or other changes and is not necessarily about an employees' performance.
Superintendent Barry Reilly said the list includes full and part-time staffers who are being cut due to a loss of grant funds, the lack of part-time hours and because of the deficit. He said the cuts may not be over.
"We made assumptions that our state revenue would be flat," Reilly said. "Well, the governor has actually proposed that to go down. That isn't factored in."
Reilly said the possible pension shift to the school districts isn't factored into the budget either. He also said if the district weren't in a deficit, the cuts would be about half.
The RIF list includes 11 part-time teachers, 12 probationary teachers, 7 paraprofessionals, one business and community liaison and one office and technical employee.
Student handbook changes
One proposed change in the District 87 student handbook next year would pass along a credit card convenience fee to parents who pay for school lunches online.
The online program is mylunchmoney.com.
Administrator David Wood said the district pays 3.95% on every transaction and $.25 per transaction, which he said is costing on average $25,000 a year. If the school board approves, parents who use the online service would either pay $1.95 per transaction or $12 up front for the year.
"If they put on $10, they'd have to pay $1.95, if they put $20 on it they would have to pay $1.95. So, to some extent they can control how much they have to pay," Wood said. "Or, they could pay $12 at the beginning of the year and not worry about it. They could have a transaction every day and it wouldn't matter."
Wood said the convenience fees are lot for the taxpayers to fund in order for a few to use credit cards, especially given the state of the district's budget.
The district still allows parents and students to bring cash, checks or even money orders.
Some board members want the district to consider another online service.
Other proposed handbook changes include a $10 increase in fees at every school level as well as a $20 increase in the junior high outdoor education. Lunches would go up a proposed ten cents at the elementary, junior high and high school and $.25 for adults.
The handbook would amend the dress code to allow headbands. Language has also been added letting students know the district isn't responsible for lost valuables.
Finally, the district is strengthening language concerning the recording or posting of videos from cell phones.