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updated: 1/12/2010 3:30 PM

Dist. 94 to discuss cutbacks tonight

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The debate over $776,000 in proposed budget cutbacks - including up to four teaching positions - begins tonight in West Chicago Community High School District 94.

A letter outlining the recommended cuts was posted Tuesday afternoon on the district's Web site.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the high school, 326 Joliet St.

District 94 faces a shortfall of nearly $800,000 for the 2010-2011 school year, due in large part to the troubled economy, officials said.

The proposed cutbacks include some of the nearly 200 ideas for trimming expenses suggested by employees, parents and students during a series of meetings last fall, said Superintendent Lalo Ponce. The district's goal is to "maintain a balanced budget and still provide a quality program," he said.

The recommendations include:

• Reducing staff by up to two administrators, four teachers and two support staff, to save $516,000.

• Eliminating pay for lunch-duty supervisors. Administrators will supervise students during lunch instead, Ponce said.

• Cutting by 50 percent the number of students who study law enforcement, horticulture and other fields at the Technology Center of DuPage. Currently, there are 70 students enrolled at a cost of $5,000 per student.

• Eliminating assistant coaching stipends for two "B" teams.

• Providing student planners only to freshmen, the group of students with the greatest need for this organizational tool.

• Reducing purchase of library books by 50 percent and supplies by 33 percent.

Some parents are questioning why District 94 doesn't tap into its $6.7 million in reserves from the sale of the High Lake property several years ago. "The board has consistently indicated that sum of money is dedicated to maintaining the building," Ponce said.

Parent Rita Berger sent out an e-mail urging parents and taxpayers to attend the meeting to show their interest in what happens at the high school.

District 94, with its economically and culturally diverse student body, "is the quiet little gem in DuPage County," Berger said.

"We've got some kids doing some amazing things at our school, and that's what I don't want to go away," she said.

District 94 serves students in West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Wheaton and Carol Stream.