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updated: 1/25/2010 2:09 PM

Gavin Dist. 37 to talk teacher cuts tonight

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Gavin school board members will need to make some tough choices as they look to trim about $360,000 from the annual operating budget.

Gavin Elementary District 37 Superintendent John Ahlmeyer said the board will discuss cutting teachers, support staff members and potentially an administrative salary from the 2010-11 budget when it meets at 7 p.m. today at Gavin South Elementary School, Route 134 in Ingleside.

Ahlmeyer said it's unclear at this point what positions, or how many, are at stake in the process, saying only a "handful of teaching and support staff positions could be cut."

"We are going to try and do it as painlessly as possible," he said. "We need to turn in a balanced budget, and with more state cuts potentially looming, we will need to make some tough choices."

Ahlmeyer said the district intends to have all decisions finalized by late February.

If forced reductions are necessary, it would be the second year in a row in which Gavin has had to lay off employees. Last year, the board cut four support staff support jobs and one administrative position.

Despite the cuts, the district still had to borrow $1 million in tax anticipation loans.

Annually, districts with cash problems obtain short-term loans to make ends meet. The loans are repaid in July after the district collects property tax money, but the loans come with higher-than-normal interest rates.

"We froze administrative salaries and made the cuts needed, but were still forced to borrow $1 million in loans," Ahlmeyer said. "Our ultimate goal is to not have to take out those loans, but we need to build up our fund balances in order to do that."

Ahlmeyer said board members have not discussed going out for referendum for a tax rate increase. Instead, he said, the district will trim where possible then look at a tax rate hike later.

"Right now, we can do some cuts to get the budget balanced," Ahlmeyer said. "But, at some point, the district will need revenue and we will not be able to cut our way out of it."