by Susan O’Neill
KANELANDâ€”The Kaneland School Board voted on a couple of measures to begin formally addressing the districtâ€™s $2.6 million budget deficit for the 2010-11 year.
The administration, with feedback from the various cost centers, the community and the board, identified several scenarios for the board to consider that would close the budget gap.
The board came up with a variation on one of the scenarios that would eliminate five high school clubs and activities and replace sixth- and seventh-grade competitive sports with an intramural program.
The board also decided to defer all technology replacement costs for next year, which cut $230,000 from the 2010-11 budget.
â€œI can’t in good conscience put money into technology when we’re losing teachers,â€ said board member Deborah Grant, who had previously proposed that the board consider cutting from the technology budget.
School administrators agreed to a wage freeze for next year, which eliminated another $48,000 from the budget.
The board discussed raising student fees for textbooks and other curriculum-related fees, as well as those associated with sports, clubs and other activities. Although they did not take a formal vote on the issue, the straw poll taken was 4-3 against raising them.
â€œI don’t see that a fee increase, unless it’s huge, will have an impact on our budget, but it has a big impact on limiting participation in activities,â€ board member Bob Myers said.
Several parents in the community forum had recommended the increase of fees as a way to save some of the sports and other activities. However, several board members said they thought it might limit a number of students from participating in some of the activities due to family budgets.
â€œI know it’s a quick fix, but I don’t think it’s fair,â€ Myers said. â€œThe average family struggles with some of these fees now.â€
School Board President Lisa Wiet said that, in addition to the parents who said they would gladly pay the fees to keep the programs from being cut, she also heard from others that caution should be exercised with this option.
The bottom line is that, unless the increase in fees was substantial, the additional money generated would not be enough to make up the difference in the costs of some of these programs.
â€œThe fees will never cover our expenses,â€ McCormick said.
The board will take a final vote on cuts, including specific personnel actions, at its March 8 meeting, and will resume the fee discussion again prior to spring break.