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District 202 Cuts 64 Jobs to Slash Budget Deficit

The school board Monday approved $3.9 million in cuts to ensure a balanced 2012-13 spending plan.

The equivalent of 64 full-time positions in will be cut in an effort to eliminate a projected in 2012-13 budget.

In a unanimous vote, the school board on Monday approved the layoffs, which will save an estimated $3.9 million.

But state aid continues to be unpredictable and volatile, and the district may soon be on the hook for several million more in transportation and teacher pension costs that were once the state’s responsibility, district officials said.

The approved cuts include the full-time equivalent of 27.4 members of the Association of Plainfield Teachers to save $1.77 million; the equivalent of 35.3 members of the Plainfield Association of Support Staff at a savings of about $970,000; and the full-time equivalent of one special education administrator at a savings of about $144,100.

Among the cuts were seven deans (one at each high school and one at John F. Kennedy, Timber Ridge and Aux Sable middle schools) to save $452,800 and seven middle and high school instructional technology specialists to also save $452,800.

High school department chairs will be restructured so that each chair will be responsible for more departments and two assistant principals will handle additional duties at a savings of nearly $300,000.

Four high school physical education/health positions were cut to save $258,700 and elementary and high school reading specialists were cut for a $181,000 savings.

The full-time equivalent of six learning lab teaching assistants, two media teaching assistants, nine custodial subs, three 9-month attendance secretaries, 6.3 special education job coaches and four high school copy clerks were also eliminated.

Also eliminated were four ASDA support supervisors, who oversaw the middle-schools’ in-school suspension program.

In addition to personnel, each elementary school must reduce its budget by 5 percent ($60,200 savings); each middle school must cut its budget by 10 percent ($91,100 savings) and each high school must cut 15 percent ($271,500 savings).

“It sickens me to cut one position,” board member Rod Westfall said.

During the vote, board members said they appreciate their employees, but the deficit will not go away without substantial cuts.

They added that state government is increasing the financial burden for local school districts by failing to pay anticipated transportation costs and with plans to shift teachers’ pensions to local school districts and to freeze property taxes.

If the state shifts responsibility to fund teachers’ pensions to the local districts, it could cost District 202 another $10 million, Supt. John Harper said.

Transportation costs the district $14 million, and the state has been consistently reducing the amount it pays the district, Westfall said, adding the school board has invited state leadership to talk about the district’s financial struggles, but has been declined.

“It disgusts me to vote yes (to cut staff), but I have no other choice,” Westfall said. “I assure you we will work hard to make people accountable at the state level.”

The district has reduced its expenses by about $43 million since 2009 through staff and program cuts and operational savings.

In March 2009, the board eliminated 86 full-time positions. Another 159 positions were cut the following year and 35 more positions were cut in 2011.

A full copy of the budget reduction plan will be available on the district’s Web site, www.psd202.org.

JeffK February 28, 2012 at 06:40 AM
Give the administrators a raise and cut 64 jobs. How slimy can you get? They make Chicago and Cook County look like angels.
Heather Drake February 28, 2012 at 08:20 AM
I am very disappointed in Dr. Harper for waiting until the last minute to present his recommendations to the BOE, knowing a vote was needed by the end of the month, and in the BOE for not questioning any of his suggestions! I sat in the meeting and listened to Dr. Harper say how "technology is important to the district". In defending the new software purchased by the district, Ms.Darlene von Behren commented how "technology is an everchanging field" and that District 202 needs to keep up; and finally when discussing the hiring of the new IT positions for the admin center, Mrs. Bonuchi noted that they placed a "high value on knowing the technology" when interviewing candidates. With all this emphasis on technology at the district level, please explain to me why anyone feels it is ok to eliminate the seven IT teachers at the middle school level? Our students are already behind when it comes to technology and now we are going to have them wait until high school to get any formal classroom training? I find this appalling and cannot believe that Dr.Harper couldn't have found a couple of upper level administrators that could have been let go in order to save the IT positions. Our district is way to heavy at the top and once again students will suffer because Dr.Harper and our BOE didn't have the guts to eliminate their comrades/friends at the district building!
Vera February 28, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Here's a chart of the cuts. It does show one position from the administrative level was cut and the rest was from the unions. There were also increase cuts at the building levels which means each principal will have to decide what to cut in his or her building. In past years, some principals cut funding to teachers for overseeing afterschool programs and clubs. It looks like the high schools might have to cut $67,886 from its budget next year. http://www.psd202.org/Documents/FY13%20Budget%20Reductions.pdf Here are some questions for Patch or parents to ask: How can a district give raises (administrators this year and teachers and support staff in the next two years) when the board knows that lay-offs are looming? How many jobs would have been saved if EVERYONE agreed to pay freezes for three years? What will the class sizes be in high school health/PE? What other class sizes have changed due to the cuts? What will happen to the Catalyst program at the high schools? How much money is going toward raises for all employees next year compared to this current school year?
Sheila Raddatz February 28, 2012 at 01:12 PM
It sounds like we need fresh blood up in administration levels. Anyone that would cut any sort of technology education is obviously still using an abacus at home.
Kim fkimfitzgerald3@comcast.net February 28, 2012 at 02:13 PM
And reading specialists? The argument for increasing the administrator's salary (retroactively!) was that the district wants to continue to draw top talent and stay competitive with other districts. This is coming at the expense of the schools themselves losing the support staff which made us a great district. It is sad that in an economy like this the board and administration can't see the value of a JOB and that for some reason they are above salary freezes. How it must feel to take a retroactive pay increase (after bragging for 18 months that they were sacrificing raises) and then have peers in the field have their salary DROPPED TO ZERO. The teaching staff is what makes Our schools great!
Butch February 28, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Hey, you have endorsed salary bumping and created this monster, and now it's coming back to bite you in the butt.
Lisa S. February 28, 2012 at 06:02 PM
At the rate this District is going the only people left to teach our kids will be the administrators! This is perhaps the most ridiculous move they have made yet. One day we have a budget surplus and the next day we are in dire straits again. Dr. Harper needs to go because very obviously he does not have any real sense of what is needed by this District, it's taxpayers, it's parents, or is 'learners'. Sadly, when he does he'll be escaping in his golden parachute.
Mom of 2 boys February 28, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I would like Harper to publicly explain how he can boast a surplus and hence offer raises to a select group one week, and then state a deficit the next? Somewhere the math doesn't add up, and more people need to speak out. These are our children's futures and the administration is royally messing them up!
Justmyopinion February 29, 2012 at 12:11 AM
You know why don't they let go the teachers and the aides that are dedicated to the non-English speaking classes and force those kids to learn English and be treated like the rest of the kids. Our school has two classrooms dedicated to non-English speaking children, some of them have been in these classes for multiple years. My child is forced to be in an overcroweded classroom with a ratio of 25 students to 1 teacher. Yet we have two classrooms that the ratio is 6 children to 1 teacher. How much could be saved in salaries there when spread district wide. If they have to offer this option don't offer it at every school and make their parents get them to the proper schools.
T-Bone February 29, 2012 at 01:05 AM
So this is how you get a A+ Bond rating huh! Hope you are proud 202!
Jason February 29, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Agreed!
Saturn1 February 29, 2012 at 02:42 PM
As an educator, I am appalled and utterly embarrassed by the actions of our school board and Superintendent. There is no justification to the actions of giving the administrators raises and then cut jobs. As educators we pride ourselves on doing what is best for kids. Nothing you did here is to benefit the kids. Every administrator should be ashamed for accepting these raises and taking away valuable assets to our children’s education. I want to know how our administrator in charge of finances can say we have a surplus on week and then turn two weeks later and say we are millions in the hole. Somebody please explain how that is even remotely acceptable. I look at our surrounding districts that are making cuts. Their school board at least has the respect to not hide from their community. They are allowing the community to be heard before making any decisions. Our school board and Superintendent are cowards for hiding this from the community and taking these raises. Stop blaming the state for creating all our financial problems. Yes, every district in the state is suffering from that, we get it, but you also created this and had an opportunity to fix some of the issues but instead you can now go on that summer vacation with the raise you are accepting and putting quality teachers out of a job.
Vera February 29, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Dr. Harper doesn't go on vacation. Instead he cashes in his 20 unused vacation days, earning over $20,000.
Vera February 29, 2012 at 03:11 PM
School Board President Roger Bonuchi blames the state - after the board gives his wife a 2.5 percent raise. Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture? http://heraldnews.suntimes.com/10934390-417/more-staff-cuts-ahead-for-plainfield-schools.html
Lisa S. February 29, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I'll assume he worked that one into his contract...apparently he had better attorneys than the District.
MidwestGal February 29, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Holy Sh#@...couldn't agree more!! What's even more amazing is most of the kids speak perfect english - and yet, the parents KNOW they get a better education and get what they want! Why can't my child learn Spanish for free, if they learn English for free?! How about cutting one of the three pe teachers at our elem. school? How about cutting the "clerk" who sits and files her nails at our elem. school. Or fire the lunch room moms who yell non stop and hug their own kids the entire time (cut the cords ladies)? I think Tom Hernandez should send out an email, mailing and a connect ed about this like he did the PNHS vs. PSHS Mcdonalds "problem". Then he should click "reply all" to an email with confidential student names...hey dist202, save money, lose Hernandez!!!
Lisa S. March 01, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Amen ;-)
silentrippy July 31, 2012 at 01:21 PM
The school district is the only one to blame here. Keep slashing jobs and wages.

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