by Susan O’Neill [quote]
Kanelandâ€”The Kaneland School District, faced with a reduction in property tax income and cuts in state funding, projects a $3 million deficit in next year’s budget. Given the magnitude of the deficit, school officials said at Tuesday’s board meeting that â€œnothing is off the table.â€
â€œWe can’t cut $3 million with books and pencils,â€ Kaneland Superintendent Charlie McCormick said.
Last year’s budget cuts, which officials described as $750,000 in low-hanging fruit, will make this process even more difficult.
â€œThe easy cuts have already been made,â€ Kaneland Associate Superintendent of Schools Jeff Schuler wrote in a budget message to Kaneland staff.
â€œWe can’t do it piecemeal,â€ he said on Tuesday. â€œWe have to look at targeted reductions for all cost centers.â€
In addition, there is not a lot of time within which to make these decisions, Schuler said. They have to be implemented by February.
Cuts in staff, programs, extra-curricular activities and subsequent increases in class size will all be options considered, he said.
Schuler explained that to put the financial information in perspective, people should understand that one teaching position equals approximately $50,000 in funding.
According to the October staff newsletter, with next year’s consumer price index projected at approximately .1 percent and new construction practically non-existent, a 2 percent increase next year in income from property taxes is probably optimistic.
Kaneland’s second largest source of revenue is the General State Aid (GSA). To understand how insecure this funding source is, it is useful to know that the Illinois State Board of Education is currently conducting financial stress modeling in which the impact on school districts of a 15 percent reduction in GSA is being studied.
This year, the district received only half of what was due from its third largest source of revenue, money from mandated categorical programs, primarily in special education and transportation. In addition, currently $1 billion of federal funding is being used to support GSA. When this money is no longer available next year, there is no plan in the works to replace it with state level income.
School officials said they will make the budget-cutting process as transparent as possible, and they hope to obtain as much input as possible, within the given time frame.
The people responsible for each cost center will be asked to work with their staffs to discuss ways to reduce their budgets.
â€œThe biggest numbers are labor-related,â€ board member Bob Meyers said. â€œYou’re quickly whittling down your choices. I’m assuming a good chunk of staff in order to hit that number.â€