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updated: 9/21/2012 3:20 PM

Community forum to focus on financial struggles at District 41

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Lake Villa Elementary District 41's troubled financial outlook will be the topic of a community forum Tuesday, officials said.

Superintendent John Van Pelt will lead the forum in the auditorium at Palombi Middle School, 133 McKinley Ave., from 7 to 9 p.m. It is the first of several yet-to-be-scheduled forums on the issue.

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Van Pelt said the district is operating with a $1.8 million deficit, despite making $1.5 million in cuts prior to the 2012-13 school year.

The shortfall is due to declining enrollment in District 41, as well as reduced financial support from the state, he said.

The forum is to collectively inform the staff, parents and community about the tough financial times facing the district, and begin discussing what steps will be taken to correct some of those problems, he said.

"We have done some of this in the past, but it's time for another forum where we can present the information to the community," Van Pelt said. "I'm going to give people a little enrollment and financial information, then hand it off to the other speakers who have more information to share."

Lake Villa Township Assessor Jeff Lee will be on hand to speak to people about local taxes and equalized assessed valuations of homes in the area. Doreen Linderman of PMA Financial will talk about some long-range financial planning taking place at the district.

Van Pelt said people who attend the forum will have opportunities throughout the evening to ask questions in order to get the most accurate information.

"We want to share as much information about our current financial situation with as large a group as we possibly can," he said.

District 41 eliminated the equivalent of 20 staff positions and cut operational expenses by $400,000 starting at the end of the 2011-12 school year to address the budget deficit.

The layoffs trimmed $1 million from the annual operating budget, but the district remains in the red.

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