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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published March 15, 2018

Board agrees on more cuts, fee hike

By Pam Lannom

Another look at proposed budget cuts in Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 led board members to revisit line items they decided last month not to touch.
   Board members and administrators have been working to close a projected $1.36 million shortfall in the 2018-19 budget. Before Monday’s meeting, $698,000 in efficiency measures and about $1 million in cuts had been identified.
   At their meeting Monday, board members said they were no longer interested in altering start times for elementary and middle school students to save $306,000 in transportation costs, as the same buses could run both routes.
   “I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of changing the start and end times of the school day at this stage because I feel this is an idea that has not been fully vetted,” board President Jennifer Burns said. “I think there are a lot of moving parts that haven’t been vetted.”
   Instead board members directed Chief Financial Officer Mohsin Dada to find out how much the district could save if it provided busing only for students who live 1.5 miles from school, as required by state law, instead of 1 mile from school, as indicated in district policy.
   Board members also rejected the idea of eliminating the $300,000 staffing contingency from the spending plan, as an average of $254,600 has been spent annually over the last three years.
   That left board members to identify an additional $606,000 in cuts.
   Adhering to class size guidelines will reduce the staff by three full-time teachers and save the district $210,000 next year. While the idea was not popular last month, board members had a change of heart Monday.
   Board member Margie Kleber said if the district doesn’t follow its policies and guidelines, in effect they do not exist.
   “I really think we have to start by following the guidelines that have been established and following the policies that have been established,” she said.
   Eliminating advanced placement world language classes at the middle school will save .5 teaching positions, or $35,000.
   Unwilling to make changes to art or physical education, board members decided to increase the registration fee by $75 for all students to generate about $255,000 a year.
   Board members said they were hesitant to increase the burden on families, but the revenue generated by the increase is significant.
   “It’s not chump change,” board member Leslie Gray said. “We heard loud and clear that people want to keep services.”
   Those three items closed $500,000 of the $600,000 gap. Board members will wait to hear how much they can save in busing costs at their April 9 meeting. If that amount is not high enough, they agreed to increase the number of sections for art teachers, which would cut down on preparation time but save $70,000, the cost of one teacher.
   Staff changes that trigger a “reduction in force” need to be discussed with the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Teachers Association and must be approved by the board at its April 9 meeting.
   Several options need to be discussed down the road, board members agreed, including creating grade level centers, examining the delivery of special education districtwide and charging fees for after-school activities.
   In the meantime, they encouraged Superintendent Don White to keep looking for savings, particularly in the administrative office.
   “We’ve been shaking the tree a lot to try to find it,” White said.



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