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First round of budget cuts could save District 205 $34M
Posted By Jim Hagerty On March 2, 2011 @ 11:29 pm In Happening Now | 3 Comments
By Jim Hagerty
Key District 205 officials met at the Administration Building today (March 2) to determine how much the district will save by closing six schools.
According to figures released this afternoon, the school board’s first rounds of cuts will allow the administration to apply $5 million toward its fiscal 2012 budget shortfall of $50 million.
Officials initially projected a $6.5 million cushion. That was before the board voted to keep Haskell Year-Round Academy and full-day kindergarten.
The goal is to maximize class sizes, and eliminate expenses of maintaining buildings not filled to capacity. As of this academic year, schools are only 75 percent full district-wide.
Some schools are 40 percent from capacity.
If closures approved last night are successful and class sizes are maximized next year, the measure could save the district approximately $34 million.
As of this report, the district is eying approximately $12 million in concessions from the teachers union. That leaves $4 million, which is said to come from the elimination of programs, possible layoffs and further cuts.
“While the board has taken some action, and I’m glad they took some action, there are savings associated with the action taken last evening,” Chief Financial Officer Cedric Lewis said. “We are not out of the woods yet from a cash flow perspective.”
It was initially reported that the board’s second wave of cuts would not occur until labor talks with the union were completed. However, it appears the process may not work out that way.
After closing six schools, board members shifted into talks about its next round of reductions, laying them over until next week.
Board President David Kelley, in response to hesitation by Harmon Mitchell (Sub District-F) to move on secondary slashes, said Tuesday it is too late to wait on the union because a communication deadline is bearing down.
“Union negotiations are not going to be resolved before we have to file a notice,” Kelley said.
The notice Kelley referred to is an announcement to district staff about available funds and the number of teachers needed next year.
New Milford Elementary, Jackson Elementary, Stiles Elementary, Skyview Center, Summerdale Elementary and Kennedy Middle School will be closed next year.
Consolidations and repurposed buildings
The Auburn Freshman Campus will be the new Kennedy Middle School while Lewis Lemon Elementary will be a neighborhood school. Jackson Elementary students will attend Bloom and Nelson and New Milford students will be bused to Froberg Elementary and Nashold School.
Still on the table
The closure of Maria Montessori School, elimination of gifted glasses, which could close Washington Academy, and the elimination of ACE High School are expected to be voted on Tuesday, March 8.
Barbour Language Academy and Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) are still in jeopardy, as well as the Leadership and Learning Academy.
Ellis Arts Academy and Barbour Language Academy may become K-5 elementary schools. If Barbour becomes a traditional elementary school, the district could eliminate the language immersion program.
The board said it would mull eliminating eight assistant principal positions, in spite of Superintendent Sheffield’s advice to keep them.
Several zoning boundaries for elementary and middle schools will be re-drawn to reflect the changes, officials said.
The Rockford Board of Education meets every Tuesday at the District 205 Administration Building, 201 S. Madison St. Meetings begin at 7 p.m., and are open to the public.
As of this report, holding the March 8 meeting at Ellis for a second week was being considered.
Ellis Arts Academy is at 222 S. Central Ave.
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