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posted: 2/2/2010 12:01 AM

Lake Park aims to trim $1.7 million

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After four years of actively watching spending to help balance the budget in Lake Park High School District 108, the district school board is now facing an even greater shortfall due to sagging local and state revenues.

The board held a special meeting Monday to discuss a projected $1.7 million deficit in next year's annual budget, which totals approximately $50 million.

Jeff O'Connell, District 108 assistant superintendent of business services, said programs at both Lake Park High School's west and east campuses are expecting only 70 to 75 percent of state funding they normally receive, due to Illinois' budget crisis. And since property tax revenues have also fallen flat for the upcoming fiscal year, the district is exploring almost 20 different options for cutting costs, he added.

While school officials say it's too early to know if layoffs or salary adjustments will become a reality, board members spent Monday evening reviewing cost-saving measures.

"What you're seeing here today are some brainstorming ideas generated through the administrative department with a number of people including the board members, (teachers) union and finance committee," said board member P.J. Olzen. "Everyone needs to understand, what we're faced with is a large goal to come to a balanced budget. It's going to be no easy task."

Some money-saving measures discussed Monday included reducing supply purchases by 10 percent; cutting capital spending on computers, furniture and student desks by 50 percent; raising student fees for some programs like driver's ed or instituting bus fees for field trips; and reducing landscaping to save $25,000.

Board member Martin Tasch warned that some measures, like holding out on computer replacement, could just mean greater expenses down the road.

Budget discussions will continue during upcoming board and finance committee meetings, and officials said decisions regarding staffing changes or student fee increases should become clearer by March.

"We have tough decisions to make and we're trying to get to a situation that everyone can live with," Olzen said.