A lengthy list of budget reductions will get the district to under a million-dollar budget deficit, with about $1.4 million in cuts enacted. The school board voted 5-2 in favor.
The cuts include reducing the budgets of all athletics programs and building supplies by ten percent, restructuring transportation for the Early Years Program, delaying operations and maintenance-related capital projects that are funded by grants, and the restructuring and consolidation of facilities.
The two biggest budget reductions- nearly $700,000 in savings- are the reduction of seven certified positions- expected to be achieved through attrition- and the realignment of non-certified staff based on student need and job duties.
The board also made moves intended to generate revenue, including the consolidation of alternative placement.
There’s a range of new and higher fees. The student driver’s ed fee goes from $100 to $250 for the full education. Jacksonville High School athletic fees move from $60 to $75; Turner Junior High athletic fees bump from $25 to $50.
The high school clothing and crafts fees increase from $5 to $15. The high school agenda fee will rise by $4. There will be a new $10 student technology fee for elementary students and $25 for junior high and high school students.
The board voted on the package of cuts after the district’s administrators assembled a list last month. Board member Craig Albers says that’s why he voted in favor.
“If we would have taken this budget and voted item by item by item, I would have had items I voted ‘no’ on and I would have had items I voted ‘yes’ on,” says Albers.
“But looking at the budget as a whole and trying to look at the district as a whole , although there were items in there I didn’t like, I felt like it was fair and equitable across the board to the district and that the administrative team did a great job in trying to be as fair and equitable as they could. And so, I supported it as a whole,” he continues.
The “no” votes came from Steve Cantrell and Jennifer DeWitt. Because the vote wasn’t unanimous, administration’s suggestion to reduce per-student funding at 8 Points Charter School by $35,000 wasn’t included, based on the district’s contract with the school.
Cantrell says the budget item concerning 8 Points influenced his vote.
“I support all the rest of the cuts because we have to do it at this time; I just couldn’t support that one,” says Cantrell. “But that does not mean that if we bring it back on the 20th that things may change. There are some other options that might be out there that we haven’t had time to talk to their board about.”
In order to have any budget reduction related to 8 Points enacted for the upcoming school year, the school board would have to vote by the end of this month.
The cuts come nearly a year after Franklin Elementary School was closed, part of another $1.4 million in cuts. Albers hopes the school board will approach future cuts differently.
“It’s my hope that we stop the process of doing all these in one evening and start an ongoing process of how we do business so that we can make some of these decisions ongoing, as opposed to having to group together one or two million dollars in cuts and do them all at the same time,” says Albers.
The district expects that the cuts will allow it to close its budget deficit to around $900,000. However, based on Governor Pat Quinn’s budget address yesterday, that could change. We’ll have more on that part of this story this afternoon.