SAUK VILLAGE | Consolidated School District 168 unanimously voted against reducing the number of teachers or expanding the size of classes as a way to help cut into the budget deficit.
With the full board present, the vote was 7-0.
The original 2012-13 budget carried a $2.3 million deficit. Last week, the state announced that they would only fund 80 percent of the planned amount, down from 89 percent.
According to Business Manager Sharlyne Williams, that move increased the deficit to $3.5 million.
The board and school administrators are aggressively looking for ways to defray costs and reduce the deficit.
School Superintendent Al Travaglini asked that the discussion and vote regarding expanding class sizes and reducing teachers be placed on the agenda.
“No one on the board, and no administrators including myself, want to lay a teacher off,” Travaglini said. “We have no intention to go that route. If we officially vote a motion to publically state that we will not go that route, it sends a clear message to our teachers that they can be comfortable knowing they will not be impacted.”
Union President Shawna Havener shared Travaglini’s sentiments.
“Obviously, we do not want to see teachers laid off,” she said. “We’re happy to know that all of the school board and school administrators echo that sentiment.”
School officials are looking into different avenues to cut costs and possibly raise additional revenue. One area of concern raised by several board members was the cost to the district for employee healthcare insurance.
The district does have a positive cash reserve balance, one of the few districts in the state to be in that position. At this time, the plan is to use a portion of the cash reserves to cover any deficit that remains at the end of the budget year. There is no plan to borrow money or sell bonds at this time.
Travaglini also told the board that he and several other superintendents attended a meeting last week led by Rep. Thaddeus Jones (D-29th) regarding the school budget crisis hitting all of the south suburb districts.
“Jones informed us of the unfair and unlevel playing field between charter schools and public schools,” Travaglini said. “He explained that the legislature wants to introduce a bill to help resolve that inequity.”
The state pays charter schools 100 percent of the $6,000 per student allocated. The state is now only paying 80 percent, or $4,800, to public school districts such as D168.
“We would like to know why the charter schools are fully funded while we struggle,” Travaglini said.
The district Finance Committee will put together a plan to examine options to cut costs in as many areas as practical.
But teachers and students will not be impacted, based on last night’s vote.