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Dist. 300 will cut 46 teachers at end of school year
By Jameel Naqvi | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/9/2009 10:55 PM

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Facing a possible budget shortfall, Community Unit District 300 will cut 46 nontenured teachers at the end of this school year.

The District 300 school board voted to approve the cuts Monday, saying the move was needed to keep the district's budget in the black.

Thirty-two of those who will be cut are first-year employees teaching in elementary schools. According to the district, these teachers are being let go "strictly for budgetary reasons."

"These 32 releases are specifically intended to help keep the budget balanced so that D300 does not have to return to voters for years to come," board President Joe Stevens and Superintendent Ken Arndt wrote in a letter to parents and staff Monday.

The district will fire 14 teachers for performance-related reasons, according to district officials.

While some of the 32 first-year teachers may return to District 300 classrooms in the fall if the district's budget picture improves, the district says it does not intend to rehire the 14 teachers who will be dismissed for performance-related reasons.

The one bright spot for district teachers is that Monday's move may be the last of the district's layoffs for the 2009-10 school year: "There are no current plans to release any other staff members due to budgetary reasons," the letter from Stevens and Arndt reads.

While the letter states that District 300 will generally be able to keep elementary school class sizes down, Stevens said Monday that "some of the class sizes promised in the 2006 referendum will be affected."

The board president said, however, that maintaining a balanced budget was more pressing than keeping that promise, and would forestall the need to ask voters for another tax increase.

Because of a state budget deficit and a minimal increase in property taxes the district will collect next year, District 300 could face a budget shortfall next year.

The district expects to save about $1.5 million by not filling 30 staff vacancies next year.