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Maine Twp. District 207 to cut 137 jobs next year
By Madhu Krishnamurthy | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/12/2010 12:01 AM | Updated: 1/12/2010 6:26 PM

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Roughly 137 Maine Township High School District 207 employees, including 75 full-time teachers, will receive termination letters Tuesday morning.

District 207 Superintendent Ken Wallace Monday night unveiled the administration's cost-reduction plan to whittle down a projected $19 million deficit in the 2010-2011 academic year.

The recommended cuts total $15 million - $7.5 million for nontenured/certified teachers and support personnel; $2.6 million for supplies and services eliminated, including travel, printing and energy products; $1.1 million in administrative cuts by dismissing seven administrators at the end of the current school year; $1 million in technology upgrades and $1 million in capital projects.

The layoffs bring the district's overall head count down from roughly 980 employees this school year to 843 employees in 2010. Full-time teachers, safety monitors, secretarial/clerical staff, teaching assistants and custodial/maintenance staff were hardest hit by the cuts.

In December, the District 207 teachers union decided not to reopen contract negotiations to forego a roughly 3.2 percent wage increase in 2010, which could have saved up to 55 jobs.

With the layoffs, class sizes will increase across the board.

A few of the employees facing the ax left the board room Monday night in tears. While they declined to give their names for publication, the employees voiced their disappointment with the administration's decision, saying the deficit was not their fault.

District officials have largely blamed the deficit on a flat Consumer Price Index, the measure used by the government to determine the property tax levy each year. In the past, districts have seen a 3 to 5 percent growth in the index.

District officials realized the problem last July when an earlier projected deficit of $3.8 million for the 2008-2009 fiscal year was actually going to be much larger than anticipated. The deficit for that school year ended up being $10.3 million.

The district's deficit spending has grown and will be at $12 million by the end of the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

"What we've got going on here is a symptom of a larger problem," Wallace told the school board.

Wallace said as revenues have not been in line with growing expenditures, officials continued to spend down the district's reserve that was once at 100 percent of annual expenditures.

Earlier in 2009, the district had a $100 million cash balance, roughly 90 percent of its annual operating budget of $112 million. But deficit spending continues to spiral downward, Wallace said.

"We simply cannot stay on the current course," he said.

The district's reserve is expected to dip below 50 percent of annual expenses by the 2014-2015 academic year.

Officials propose raising about $2 million in revenues. Measures include moving the district's investment portfolio to long-term investments; increasing fees for student participation and building rental; adding a new transportation fee for field trips; eliminating free parking passes to Gold Card students at Maine West High School; trying to increase advertising revenue at games and recouping property taxes owed to the district from special taxing districts.

The public can give input at the Jan. 20 school board committee of the whole meeting at 7 p.m. at Maine East High School, 2601 Dempster St., Park Ridge. The school board is expected to approve much of the recommended cuts at its Feb. 1 meeting, but the decision to layoff some tenured, certified teachers may be delayed to March.

For more information on the cost reductions, visit maine207.org.

Proposed cuts

Suggested reductions from 2009-2010 full-time equivalent staffing:

• Certified teaching staff: 13% (75 jobs)

• Safety monitors: 31%

(16.5 jobs)

• Secretary/clerical: 15%

(13.5 jobs)

• Teaching assistants: 17%

(11 jobs)

• Custodial/maintenance: 11% (11 jobs)

• Administrative: 11% (7 jobs)

• Technology/data processing: 10% (2 jobs)

• Security guards: 7% (1 job)

Cuts in dollars:

$50,000 in legal fees

$750,000 in extracurricular/stipends, substitutes and special programs

$1 million in technology

$1 million in capital outlay

$1 million in out-of-district tuition costs

$1.1 million in administrative cuts

$2.5 million in noncertified staff including overtime

$2.6 million in supplies/purchase services

$5 million in certified staff

Cuts by teaching department in FTE staff:

Applied arts & technology - 6

Bilingual/ESL - 2.85

Counselors - 3.50

English - 14

Fine arts - 4.20

Foreign language - 4

Library - 3

Mathematics - 6

Physical education - 6.80

Science - 10.25

Special education - 9.83

Social science - 4.70

Source: Maine Township High School District 207