District 87 schools have a projected $2.7 million budget deficit this fiscal year because of a loss of revenues. (B. Corbin/WJBC)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
BLOOMINGTON - Planning has started for a deficit reduction in District 87 schools.
The district is facing a $2.7 million budget shortfall this fiscal year. Superintendent Barry Reilly has laid out the guidelines for cutting, starting with reducing programs instead of cutting, which will be spread out across the district.
"Let's take kindergarten for example. Kindergarten became a full day program, I don't know, ten years ago. In our world, eliminating it would mean that we would go back to a half a day," Reilly said. "Rather than do something like that, we would rather be inclined to, perhaps, live with a little bit higher class sizes."
Other examples include combining high school advanced placement classes or reducing the number of coaches in a program. The final decisions will eventually come down from the school board.
Reilly said he and administrators will also try to use grant funds to pay teacher salaries to the greatest extent. Those are mainly the Title I, II and III grants.
"In other words, if we don't have to reduce a teacher, but we stop providing some supplies or other services that we don't have to as part of the grant, then we would go ahead and do that," Reilly said.
The Dist. 87 school board was given the deficit reduction plan timeline Wednesday night. According to the plan, on Oct. 24, the final guiding principles and timeline will be approved and the board will get enrollment projects and the levy report. At the Dec. 12 meeting, the school board will hear the deficit reduction plan recommendations and hold the levy hearing. The plan would be talked about again at the two January meetings and the final plan will be acted on in February.
Reilly said when the plan is released in December, it won't be detailed with the number of jobs eliminated, but it will be a starting point and revised as the annual reduction in force approaches in March.
Administrator David Wood said previously, an official deficit reduction plan isn't required by the state yet. He said no matter how much they try to spend down this year, the deficit is big enough that the district won't be able to coast out of it.
The school board Wednesday night also reviewed the annual audit, which finds no budget transfers are needed and all internal controls are working. Total Dist. 87 equity ending June 30, 2012 is $143,124,143. The auditor said the district has more than four months of cash on hand.
The school board also met for two hours on setting the district goals.
Stephanie Pawlowski can be reached at Stephanie.Pawlowski@Cumulus.com.