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updated: 4/25/2011 6:26 PM

Budget cut forum in District 76

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Residents in Diamond Lake Elementary District 76 will get another opportunity Tuesday to have a say on more than $1 million in potential budget cuts.

The community forum at 7 p.m. in the small gym at West Oak Middle School, 500 Acorn Lane, Mundelein, follows a similar presentation in February that drew a sometimes boisterous crowd of about 200.

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"I'm not sure what to expect," said District 76 board president Keith Loeffler, who moderated the last session.

Proposed savings for the 2011-12 school year include eliminating many after-school activities in an effort to reduce costs. Eliminating intramurals, jazz band and computer nights, as well as after-school clubs, for example, would save about $51,000. Eliminating busing after school would save about another $40,000.

Cuts are needed due to a drop in property values for taxing purposes and because of late or decreased state payments.

The cuts will take place "as far away from the classroom as possible," Loeffler and Superintendent Roger Prosise said last week in a letter to parents.

The letter invited parents to volunteer at one of the district's three schools, and asked for their help in addressing the challenges.

Loeffler said the district is exploring possibilities such as parents volunteering time or having the Mundelein Park District run some of the activities.

"The one thing we're really trying to do is keep those after-school programs as much as we can," Loeffler said. "We're looking at a lot of different options to try to keep them in place."

The district previously cut three teaching positions. It also plans to restructure the gifted program by shifting two positions into the classroom at projected savings of $96,000, according to Prosise.

Curriculum Director Cindy Reusch resigned effective at the end of the school year and will not be replaced, which will save $103,000.

Pay freezes for all staff and elimination of summer school also are listed as possibilities to save about $404,000 for 2012-13. The goal is to balance the budget in two years. That could mean further cuts if revenues fall short of projections.

"I think the estimate of the revenue numbers is really key," said Patricia Naegele, one of two core members of a parent financial watchdog group, who won school board seats earlier this month in an uncontested election.

The parent group warned the district could go bankrupt within three years if it continued to use reserves to make up financial imbalances, but Loeffler disputed that at the February forum.

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