District 202 Cuts 64 Jobs to Slash Budget Deficit
The school board Monday approved $3.9 million in cuts to ensure a balanced 2012-13 spending plan.
In a unanimous vote, the school board on Monday approved the layoffs, which will save an estimated $3.9 million.
But state aid continues to be unpredictable and volatile, and the district may soon be on the hook for several million more in transportation and teacher pension costs that were once the state’s responsibility, district officials said.
The approved cuts include the full-time equivalent of 27.4 members of the Association of Plainfield Teachers to save $1.77 million; the equivalent of 35.3 members of the Plainfield Association of Support Staff at a savings of about $970,000; and the full-time equivalent of one special education administrator at a savings of about $144,100.
Among the cuts were seven deans (one at each high school and one at John F. Kennedy, Timber Ridge and Aux Sable middle schools) to save $452,800 and seven middle and high school instructional technology specialists to also save $452,800.
High school department chairs will be restructured so that each chair will be responsible for more departments and two assistant principals will handle additional duties at a savings of nearly $300,000.
Four high school physical education/health positions were cut to save $258,700 and elementary and high school reading specialists were cut for a $181,000 savings.
The full-time equivalent of six learning lab teaching assistants, two media teaching assistants, nine custodial subs, three 9-month attendance secretaries, 6.3 special education job coaches and four high school copy clerks were also eliminated.
Also eliminated were four ASDA support supervisors, who oversaw the middle-schools’ in-school suspension program.
In addition to personnel, each elementary school must reduce its budget by 5 percent ($60,200 savings); each middle school must cut its budget by 10 percent ($91,100 savings) and each high school must cut 15 percent ($271,500 savings).
“It sickens me to cut one position,” board member Rod Westfall said.
During the vote, board members said they appreciate their employees, but the deficit will not go away without substantial cuts.
They added that state government is increasing the financial burden for local school districts by failing to pay anticipated transportation costs and with plans to shift teachers’ pensions to local school districts and to freeze property taxes.
If the state shifts responsibility to fund teachers’ pensions to the local districts, it could cost District 202 another $10 million, Supt. John Harper said.
Transportation costs the district $14 million, and the state has been consistently reducing the amount it pays the district, Westfall said, adding the school board has invited state leadership to talk about the district’s financial struggles, but has been declined.
“It disgusts me to vote yes (to cut staff), but I have no other choice,” Westfall said. “I assure you we will work hard to make people accountable at the state level.”
The district has reduced its expenses by about $43 million since 2009 through staff and program cuts and operational savings.
In March 2009, the board eliminated 86 full-time positions. Another 159 positions were cut the following year and 35 more positions were cut in 2011.
A full copy of the budget reduction plan will be available on the district’s Web site, www.psd202.org.