School board hears $51 million cost-cutting proposal
Rockford Public School District’s Budget Advisory Committee presented a more than 15 percent cost-cutting proposal to the school board Tuesday, Jan. 11, at the weekly meeting of the Rockford Board of Education.
Aimed to slash District 205’s expected $50 million deficit for fiscal year 2012, the plan includes an array of recommendations such as half-day kindergarten, closing some elementary schools, health care reform and reducing fixed costs.
The committee also said its proposed $51 million in cuts could be possible by outsourcing a number of programs the district now pays for in-house. Some of these programs include food services and transportation.
Committee member and developer Sunil Puri of First Rockford Group told the board the plan is only a template–recommendations of what it believes will help quell the district’s financial woes.
Customizing the proposal to meet actual needs, Puri said, would be up to school officials and board members.
“By design, there aren’t specific recommendations, because that’s what you were elected to do,” Puri said. “Some of these are fundamental changes. You are going to have to do some structural changes. The system is broken.”
Superintendent Dr. Lavonne M. Sheffield said her cabinet has been working on a proposal of its own the board is scheduled to hear Jan. 25.
The superintendent’s cabinet has been working behind closed doors for several months on a series of cost-cutting measures Sheffield says will shed light on how her administration will actualize committee recommendations.
Rockford Public Schools will be operating on a $404 million budget when it begins fiscal year 2012 July 1.
The Rockford Board of Education meets each Tuesday evening, at the District 205 Administration Building, 201 S. Madison St., downtown.
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