More school layoffs likely in District 51

School District 51 is expected to announce another round of budget cuts early next week that could involve layoffs.

Though information was sketchy Friday, numerous sources told The Daily Sentinel that district officials were informing teachers and staff workers in a series of private meetings of their intention to eliminate all reading aide positions district-wide as part of a plan to cut another $7 million from next year’s budget.

In April, district officials announced $4.9 million in cuts that included eliminating 42 teaching and certified staff positions, which were part of the first round of reductions to trim next year’s spending plan by $11. 9 million.

District spokesman Jeff Kirtland said administrators will announce their full plan Tuesday when the District 51 Board of Education next meets. Though he wouldn’t confirm the elimination of reading aide jobs or say exactly what other positions would be eliminated, he did said they will include administrative jobs.

“Based on what the perception is of an administrator, meaning a principal or an assistant principal or an executive director, that kind of thing, those are areas that have been reduced,” he said. “Here’s an important piece that people in this community just don’t get: When you look at the amount that we spend on administration compared to other districts, of large districts, we’re at the very minimal amount.”

Kirtland and other district officials have said the cuts are needed because of $6.9 million in cuts from the state, a $1.1 million reduction in federal stimulus money, a $1 million reduction because of 165 fewer students expected next year, a $900,000 state-mandated increase in retirement contributions and a $2 million reduction in ownership taxes. The district also expects to see a $1.7 million increase in health care costs, which is expected to be passed on to employees.

In addition to the position cuts, the district also plans to defund Valley School East and Glade Park School. It also hopes to save money on utility costs, membership fees and school resource officers.

At the same time, the district plans to raise athletic fees.


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