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updated: 3/7/2011 9:55 PM

Another 180 layoffs in U-46

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Another 180 employees from Elgin Area District U-46 will receive a pink slip before the end of the school year, a move district leaders say will maximize staffing standards and protect the district in the event of further funding reductions.

The district is facing a $40 million deficit. Without further discussion Monday, the U-46 board of education unanimously approved laying off 88 nontenured teachers, one tenured teacher and 38 educational support personnel.

In addition, nine teachers lacking proper certification were given notices, and 32 teachers and one administrator who were hired to temporarily fill positions were also laid off. Another 11 nonunion educational support personnel -- mostly part-time staff -- will also receive notices.

In the 2011-12 school year, general middle school and high school classes will increase from about 30 students per teacher to about 33 students per teacher. At the same time, classroom sizes for core freshman courses will be reduced to about 28 students per teacher.

Enrollment figures are used to estimate the number of teachers who are assigned to a building.

"Our reductions this school year are based on staffing standards and the projected enrollment of students at each school next year," U-46 Superintendent Jose Torres said. "The state legislature's approval of our general state aid funding fix allows us to escape significant budget reductions for next school year."

Monday's action was needed to meet state deadlines and to comply with the district's contractual agreements, administrators said.

Elgin Teachers Association Second Vice President Kathy Heikkinen read a statement from teachers union President Kathryn Castle during the public comments portion of the meeting.

"Last year, teachers were told they were cut to the bare bone," the statement said, so it was difficult to understand where the district was cutting from in the latest round.

Some of the employees could be recalled once funding levels are known.

"We will be recalling employees as soon as we finalize the staffing process and once we have a better picture of next year's level of funding from the state of Illinois," Torres said. "Reductions in force, while painful, are necessary to protect the district in the event our funding is reduced."

Last month, the district approved 132 layoffs that administrators said were not budget-related. Those layoffs, district leaders said, are made annually for teachers whose positions rely on grant funding, part-time staff members and nontenured positions.

A news release says the district has no plans to reduce other groups of employees, including secretaries, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, or maintenance and grounds staff.

The reductions pale in comparison to last year when the district approved more than $30 million in cuts, including about 400 full-time positions.

Although the state government has caught up on the payments it owes the district from the 2010-11 school year that ended in June, the state still owes the district about $16 million for the current school year.

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