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updated: 2/22/2012 5:28 PM

Declining enrollment forcing District 41 to layoff staff

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Declining enrollment and state aid is causing a financial ripple through Lake Villa Elementary District 41 that will result in teachers and other support staff members being laid off in the coming school year.

Superintendent John Van Pelt said the district needs to slash about $1 million in salaries and an additional $400,000 in operational expenses over the next two years.

Van Pelt said the staff cuts will be across the board, ranging from some teachers to custodians, administrators, teacher aids, office workers and others.

The layoffs and operational cuts will be discussed by board members at their bimonthly board meeting Monday. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Polumbi Middle School gymnasium at 133 McKinley Drive.

Van Pelt said a reduction in enrollment has been the root cause for the budget shortfall.

The district is short 100 students compared to enrollment numbers from 2010-11, and down about 300 students since 2007, he said. In addition, demographics projections indicate a decline of 85 to 90 students annually for the next couple of years before leveling off.

"A perfect example is that we have 380 eighth-graders graduating this year, but only 280 students enrolled in kindergarten," he said. "That shows we have more students leaving than are coming in."

Van Pelt said Pleviak Elementary School in the center of Lake Villa has seen the largest decline in students in the last four years, but enrollment is down at each of the district's five schools.

Fewer students equals less state funding per pupil, he explained, as well as a lack of general state aid funding and grant money.

"It really is a perfect storm of issues for us," Van Pelt said. "So, we have to adjust for the declining enrollment while still pay attention to the core academic work that we have become accustomed to."

Van Pelt said the district was facing a $1 million shortfall in 2011-12, but board members agreed to dip into the district's financial reserves to cover it. He said the board is unable to do so this year.

"The cuts will impact every employee category over the next two years," he said. "It will include specialty areas, district office staff, administration, custodians, everything will be looked at. And, yes, there will be a small number of cuts at classroom levels."

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