Facing a budget crunch, the administration at Riverside-Brookfield High School drastically cut the summer hours that it pays to some teachers and staff for work they do over the summer on curriculum development and other activities.

This year RBHS is paying $20,552 in summer curriculum expenditures compared to $52,630 spent last year, a reduction of about 61 percent.

“We’re not going to be doing a lot of projects, because the money simply isn’t there,” said RB Principal Pamela Bylsma at a recent school board meeting. “We’re operating on a shoestring. We’re just going to pay for the most essential things.”

The summer curriculum expenditures were approved by the school board last month by a unanimous vote. Bylsma said that 47 people, including teachers, counselors and social workers are getting paid for summer hours.

Department chairs who in the past have been paid for summer work they do to prepare their departments for the upcoming school year will not be paid anything this summer for any work they put in.

Summer hours are typically paid to teachers who do work preparing to teach a new class. Money is also paid to counselors who work during the summer, preparing new students for the school year and for work at registration.

Teachers and other certified staff who are on nine-month contracts are paid $30 an hour for approved summer work. Many teachers spend uncompensated time over the summer upgrading their skills, deepening their knowledge of the subjects that they teach and furthering their professional development

Summer curriculum expenditures have been gradually reduced over the past four years. In 2007, the district paid $78,155 for summer curriculum expenditures. In 2008 that was reduced to $48,395 and then cut to $37,775 in 2009, before bouncing up to $52,630, according to a memo to the school board from the district’s administration in May.

Most in-house staff development training has been eliminated this year, except for some training in reading instruction and team teaching, according to Tim Scanlon, the school’s assistant principal for curriculum and development.

“This has been greatly cut back,” said former District 208 Interim Superintendent David Bonnette at last month’s school board meeting. “These are the highest-priority items for the staff to work this summer. In reality, the staff puts in more time than they’re getting paid for, but this is a token payment for the time they put in.”