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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published Dec. 13, 2018

Decision on cuts delayed by D86 board

By Ken Knutson
kknutson@thehinsdalean.com

  Two hours of public comments and another hour of board discussion couldn’t get the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board past the finish line Monday night in cobbling together $2.1 million in budget cuts.
  Slashing $1 million from co-curriculars — athletics and clubs — as part of the tightening gained traction at the heavily attended meeting in Hinsdale South’s cafeteria, but board members couldn’t find common ground on how to implement the cuts. The figure represents about 20 percent of the $5 million annual budget for co-curriculars (see chart for details on sports costs).
  “Are you going to eliminate the most expensive sports and clubs across the board to get to your magic number or are you going to eliminate (those with the least participation)?” posed board member Jennifer Planson.
  The board also asked for information on navigating Title IX, the federal law that requires gender equity in athletics. That report will be presented when the board meets at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at Hinsdale South to finalize cuts.
  The board was able to agree on saving $587,000 by shedding four administrators, $230,000 by eliminating educational support personnel staff, $140,000 in administrator and support staff pay freezes, as much as $200,000 in transportation cuts and $130,169 in eliminating five music tutors.
  The cuts come in the wake of last month’s failed $166 million referendum as the district tries to find funding for the first round of $46 million in needed life safety, security and accessibility projects.
  Speakers during public comment included the entire staff of Hinsdale Central’s Devil’s Advocate newspaper urging the board not to eliminate the newspaper, teachers decrying proposals to raise class sizes and do away with department chairs in lieu of division heads, and residents lobbying for the board to hold the referendum again on the April ballot.
  Board member Keith Chval said the board should avoid impacting the classroom to the extent possible.
  “I have a pretty strong inclination that cuts come from co-curriculars until there’s nothing left to cut,” he said. “If we needed to cut all of them, I would cut all of them.”
  Board member Kevin Camden went a step further.
  “I think you cut all co-curriculars before you cut anything else. It solves all the equity issues,” Camden said.
  That was a bridge too far for board member Kathleen Hirsman.
  “I understand you may be wanting to make a point, but I think that is irresponsible,” Hirsman retorted.
  Board member Bo Blackburn said the board should be looking to save more than just the minimum needed for projects and expressed doubt that teaching staff reductions could be avoided.
  “I hate to cut anything, but we have to look at possibly making larger cuts than just $2.1 million to insure we are taking care of the district,” he said.
  Board member Jennifer Planson advocated a broad-based approach that would reduce spending across the board rather than eliminating certain activities entirely.
  Board member Nancy Pollak lamented losing those opportunities
  “A lot of students, for their social-emotional well-being, really need to look to those outlets to provide that,” Pollak said. 
  Camden said tough decisions are what’s needed.
  “Is it uncomfortable? You bet,” he said. “But that’s where we’re at.”


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