The Dist. 87 school board will get more detailed information on what expenses will be cut at the schools, in programs and other areas at the Jan. 23 meeting. (B. Corbin/WJBC)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
BLOOMINGTON - District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly said a $2.7 million budget deficit will be tackled over two years with added revenues and cutting expenses.
The school board Wednesday night saw the proposed deficit reduction plan for 2013-2015. In September, the board approved the guiding principles including keeping students the highest priority, reducing programs before cutting them, making cuts even across the grades and using grant funds to pay teacher salaries first.
Superintendent Barry Reilly presented a plan that calls for $490,000 in added revenues, using $400,000 in tort funds and cutting $2,045,000 in expenses to total $3 million.
The tort funds, or money typically used on the safety of students, will pay hall monitors and lunchroom supervisors.
"So, we're just going to take and shift $200,000 out of tort and move it to the education fund," Reilly said. "The following year, in 2014-2015, that's an actual increase in the levy. So, that would be an additional levy for $200,000 that we would again shift over to the education fund for a total of $400,000."
Added revenues will come from this year's increase to the working cash levy, which totals $420,000, plus increasing registration fees $10 each year for the next two years.
"And, for those students that are on free or reduced lunch, free continue not to pay those registration fees, reduced pay $5 more or half each year for a total of $10," Reilly said.
The final revenue boost would come from an increase on rental fees for the Area Career Center to use Bloomington High School.
"One of the concerns we had with that was what might that do in turn to the tuition that school districts feed into have to pay, so we worked with the director and we will not see an increase in the tuition. He can absorb that," Reilly said.
So far, $550,000 in expenses has been cut this fiscal year. Reilly said the district doesn't have a spending problem, it has a revenue problem with lower property values, less money from non property tax revenues, less state and federal revenue and the loss of $800,000 over the last year when a map of Bloomington used to calculate poverty was fixed and the lines were moved.
Details on what will be cut at BHS, BJHS, the elementary schools, summer school, technology, special education and others will be presented at the Jan. 23 meeting. Reilly said the plan will include more teacher layoffs compared to other years.
"Some of that can be absorbed by retirements and other attrition but I expect that we'll see a larger number of reductions than we've seen in a normal year when we're not in a deficit," Reilly said. "That's just the natural fate."
Reilly said the numbers don't reflect any changes to teacher pensions, but the General Assembly hasn't come up with anything yet. He said if there is a cost shift from the state to local school districts, as Gov. Pat Quinn was pushing last year, that will add to the district's cost. Reilly said it's something it can't afford right now.
The board is set to act on the deficit reduction plan Feb. 27 after two other meetings with discussions. The board will vote on the annual layoffs, or reduction in force, on March 13, 2013.