The Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 board has specifically laid out cuts they will make for the 2006-07 school year if a referendum to bolster its operational fund fails March 21.
Last week, the board submitted a list of cuts totaling nearly $875,000, including eliminating teachers, cutting bus service and slashing after school sports and other activities. And those cuts, according to budget forecasts previously provided by the board, still won’t cover the expected $1.1 million deficit in its education fund for the 2006-07 school year.
“These have to be done if the referendum doesn’t pass,” said District 95 Superintendent Douglas Rudig.
The district has roughly $3 million in its working cash fund?”what’s left of a $3.6-million bond issue in 2004. The district could transfer money from that fund to cover future deficits in the education fund. However, the board would prefer to use the bond money to finance improvements to its school buildings. In addition to the referendum push, the district is simultaneously solidifying a master plan for upgrading its two school buildings.
If the remaining bond money goes toward balancing the education fund in the next two years, facilities improvements won’t be feasible.
“If the referendum does not pass … then we have to fix the problem with the money we have,” said board member Thomas Powers.
In any case, if the referendum fails, financial projections show deficits in the education fund that, without further cuts, would eat up the remainder of the bond money in two years.
After that, according to board Vice President John LaBarbera, the district wouldn’t even have the ability to borrow enough money to cover any education fund deficits.
“We’re fast approaching the point where we can’t borrow enough,” LaBarbera said. “There are other issues in the district that need attention [and] that aren’t getting attention because of the problems with the education fund. Why continue that pattern?”
At the first of five community forums highlighting the plight of the district’s financial condition on Jan. 19, board members handed out a list of cuts that would need to be made for next year should the referendum fail. Last week, the board showed just how much money those cuts would save the district.
The district proposes eliminating seven or eight teachers, or approximately one at each grade level. Class sizes would jump from grades K-4 from 21 to 26 students per class, and in grades 5-8 from 23 to 28. Those cuts alone would save the district $320,000.
In addition, the district would cut one teacher in each of the following areas: art, physical education, library and technology. It would also eliminate a half-time assistant principal position and a middle school counselor position, for a total savings of roughly $210,000.
The district would save another $275,000 by axing a variety of programs, including industrial arts, consumer science and Spanish language instruction. It would reduce band by half and eliminate the district’s gifted and talented program. The district would also cut two special education staffers.
Additionally, the district would cut up to $72,000 in after school sports and other activities, including cooking, speech and drama, science fair, intramurals, the school newspaper, yearbook and student council among others.
Bus service would also be cut to the minimum requirement of the state, which states that anyone over one mile from the school must be offered bus service.
“This is not just an attention-getter,” said board Secretary Charles Snyder. “It’s the hard reality. We have to prepare both budgets [for 2006-07] and prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
The board will hold its next referendum information forum for district residents on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at S.E. Gross School, 3524 Maple Ave., Brookfield.