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updated: 1/27/2010 10:54 AM

Gavin Elementary District 37 will borrow to help lean budget

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By Phil Collins

Gavin Elementary District 37 officials will borrow money to help a lean budget, but more drastic steps may be taken next month to erase a deficit.

The school board on Tuesday agreed to obtain no more than $1.2 million in short-term anticipated tax loans while also reviewing potentially laying off some teachers, support staff members, or administrators.

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That loan, which cash-strapped districts often obtain to inflate the school's general fund, is more than the $1 million the district borrowed last year.

"With a deficit budget this year, we feel we have to raise that a little bit," Business Manager Mark Lindem said.

Lindem added he would have a final figure by the board's Feb. 25 meeting.

The district is looking at ways to cut about $360,000 from its 2010-2011 budget. Those cuts - discussed by board members behind closed doors Tuesday night - could include staff members

Board President Connie Thorsen said board members will have to make their decision by the end of February.

"We have to balance the budget," Thorsen said. "We've had a lot of meetings with different committees getting feedback from staff on how to do that while affecting programs and students as little as possible."

In an effort to cut costs, the district cut four support staff positions and an administrator last year, then reworked some positions from full- to part-time.

Thorsen said the board has not decided on how many staff members may be cut at the end of the year, or how much of the deficit may be erased through staff cuts.

The district will repay the short-term loans after property tax revenue is collected. Lindem said he hopes to get an interest rate of less than 3 percent, but the rate is not determined until the district takes out the loans.

Lindem said he hopes to ease the cost from the interest by borrowing in two parts, first in mid-March and again in early May. The first part would be repayed at the end of June and the second part would be replayed in September.

"It depends on the lender, if they're willing to work with us like that," Lindem said.

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