Committee suggests alternatives to superintendent’s proposed budget cuts
The Rockford Board of Education’s Education Committee suggested several alternatives Tuesday, Feb. 15, to the list of massive budget cuts proposed by Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield.
Instead of accepting Sheffield’s cuts as-is, the committee examined several factors in deciding which schools and programs to eliminate for the 2011-2012 school year.
Last month, Sheffield suggested the district close or consolidate at least eight schools, as part of a plan she says will slash the district’s $50 million budget deficit by approximately $45 million. At the Tuesday, Jan. 25 school board meeting, the superintendent recommended closing Jackson Elementary, New Milford Elementary, Stiles Elementary, Auburn Freshman Campus, Dennis Early Childhood Center, West View Elementary, Page Park School and Haskell Elementary.
The plan also includes closing Skyview Center, which houses Academic Career Education High School (ACE), and moving ACE classes to West Middle School.
If the teacher’s union does not agree to labor concessions of approximately $10 million, Sheffield said she would recommend further cuts to an array of programs such as Montessori, language immersion and gifted classes.
The alternatives offered last night included closing Summerdale Elementary, leaving the year-round program at Haskell, and keeping West View open. As suggested last week by board member Jeanne Westholder, the committee recommended the plan adheres to the district’s zoned school plan passed last fall.
This means Lewis Lemon Elementary could become a zoned school on the west side.
Committee members didn’t take a vote Tuesday, but made progress in clarifying which school, job and program cuts make sense. Everything from language immersion to the proposed sports partnership with the Rockford Park District was mulled in a process the committee says aims to ease imminent community pain when the plan is finalized.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, the school board was scheduled to vote on Sheffield’s plan Tuesday, Feb. 22. Suggestions from last night’s session could delay the vote.
“If it’s next Tuesday, fine,” committee member Bob Evans said. “We just have to make the right decisions–however long it takes.”
The Rockford Board of Education meets each Tuesday evening, at the District 205 Administration Building, 201 S. Madison St., downtown. Meetings are open to the public.
The next open meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 22.
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