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posted: 1/15/2010 12:01 AM

West Chicago District 94 discusses cutbacks

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West Chicago Community High School District 94 school board members are considering more than $776,000 in budget cutbacks - including eliminating up to four teaching positions.

The proposed cuts also include reducing the number of students attending the Technology Center of DuPage, turning lunchroom supervision duty over to administrators and cutting back on the purchase of library books and supplies.

"We have some tough decisions to make as a board," said Katherine Doremus, who took over as president this week. John Jensen stepped down because of a heavy work travel schedule but remains on the board.

"We are trying to spread everything out over as many minor areas as possible to minimize the impact on education and our staff," Doremus said.

Parents, teachers and students turned out at the board meeting Tuesday to express their views on the proposed cuts, which include:

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

• 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.

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.

School board members asked administrators to revise one of the more drastic recommendations - a 50 percent cut in the number of students attending the Technology Center of DuPage. Currently, 70 students are studying law enforcement, horticulture or some other job-related field. District 94 pays $5,000 per student.

The board also asked for information on fees and the cost of drivers education and athletic buses.

The board is expected to vote Jan. 26 on any cutbacks involving personnel, but not the rest of the package.

"If we get our funding from the state, we'll be in a whole different place," Doremus said.

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," Superintendent Lalo Ponce said.

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