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posted: 3/19/2012 10:01 PM

U-46 approves 178 layoffs

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The Elgin Area School District U-46 board on Monday approved layoffs of 178 employees, including 77 teachers.

Reductions in force -- RIFs -- are commonplace this time of year in U-46 as the district prepares staffing levels for the upcoming school year, while also meeting state deadlines for notifying affected parties, administrators said.

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School board members voted 6-0 on each of the resolutions. Board member Joyce Fountain was absent.

District administrators stressed that the cuts are not budget-related and added that many positions will be rehired before the beginning of the new school year depending on class sizes, the district's budget and grant availability.

"This is the usual type of thing that we do at this time of year because of program changes or a teacher's lack of certification," said Tony Sanders, U-46 chief of staff.

Sanders said the cuts protect the district from hiring unnecessary teachers and staff. For example, paraprofessionals are pink slipped because class sizes are uncertain, so it is not known how many will be needed. If those positions are not cut prior to the state deadline for notification, which is 45 days prior to the end of the current school year, those positions would be hired back.

In addition to the 77 teaching positions, the district also laid off 99 educational support personnel and two administrators.

Superintendent Jose Torres called the cuts "difficult decisions," but noted that the reductions are the lowest numbers in the last four years.

In 2011, the district laid off 324 teachers and staff. The biggest reductions of the past four years came in the 2010 school year when the district approved layoffs of 1,177 personnel in the face of a mounting $40 million deficit and anticipated cuts to district funding. That dwarfed the previous year's number of 470 layoffs.

Further reductions could be approved at the next school board meeting, Sanders said.

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