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posted: 2/13/2010 12:01 AM

District 10 approves plan for budget cuts

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The Itasca District 10 school board has approved a plan to cut between $436,000 and $460,000 from its $11 million budget for the 2010-11 school year.

When the district realized last fall it would face a budget shortfall due to falling property tax revenues, declining state funding and Illinois tax-cap laws, officials held meetings seeking suggestions from the community that attracted hundreds of residents.

"This plan is definitely based on community input," business manager Dan Aggen said. "Our task is to now reduce according to this plan."

One key reduction includes cutting $100,000 from the district's technology account, which means it will avoid buying new equipment and replace only broken items.

The plan also calls for eliminating early and late bus runs from Peacock Middle School, as well as reducing stipends for staff for before- and after-school clubs. Benson Primary and Franzen Intermediate schools do not have many extra bus runs.

The school board also voted to increase tuition fees and set a minimum enrollment for its kindergarten-preparation program for 4-year-olds. Aggen said the half-day classes will cost $1,400 for residents and $1,600 for others attending Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the year with a minimum of 16 students; the Tuesday and Thursday classes must have 10 students and will cost $1,100 for residents and $1,300 for others.

Superintendent Marcia Tornatore said this is the first time the district has faced this type of problem, which is why the board started its budget planning several months early and opened discussions to residents. The board will not take a final vote on the budget until April or May.

Both Tornatore and Aggen said they are uncertain if any teaching jobs will be cut, but enrollment is expected to rise next fall.

"My understanding is (teaching layoffs) would be a worst-case scenario situation," Aggen said.