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Article posted: 11/9/2012 5:30 AM

Grayslake District 46 trying to shrink $1.2 million deficit

Ellen Correll

Ellen Correll

 
Shannon Smigielski

Shannon Smigielski

 
 1 of 2 
 
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Grayslake Elementary District 46 will continue studying the possibility of closing a school as part of an effort to save money.

District 46 has a $49.1 million budget for the 2012-13 academic year that includes a projected deficit of $1.2 million. Superintendent Ellen Correll this week reviewed a batch of ideas on how to save money or boost revenue, and requested school board feedback during her presentation.

One potential budget-cutting initiative board members agreed merits further study is closing one of seven schools in the system that serves parts of Grayslake, Third Lake, Hainesville, Round Lake, Round Lake Park, Round Lake Beach and Lake Villa.

Correll said she and Keith Grinnell, the district's operations and maintenance coordinator, have visited each school to examine the space and concluded there would be enough room to accommodate students if a building closed.

She said such a move would not occur until the 2014-15 school season, at the earliest.

"And we both believe that, yes, we could make it work," Correll told board members.

Correll said more research is necessary before a tentative cost-savings estimate can be offered, because higher transportation costs and possible job cuts are part of the equation.

Board member Shannon Smigielski voiced concern about how long it'll take to reach a decision.

"In fairness to the community, we might want to figure out pretty quick which school we would be looking at, so that they're aware," she said.

Reviewing other budget measures, Correll said summer projects already have been pared from an original $1.2 million to $750,000. Action also has been taken to slice monthly employee wireless telephone reimbursement from $30 to $15, she said, and a reduction in bank fee charges should account for $3,000 in savings per year.

"There definitely will be staff reductions," she said in response to a query from Smigielski.

Board members agreed further study should be done on reducing the employee mileage reimbursement rate to achieve a possible $12,000 in annual savings.

Board President Ray Millington said workers should be paid for costs incurred while traveling for District 46, but Smigielski countered they may be able to pursue reimbursement through their federal income tax returns.

Still on the table is the possibility of eliminating textbooks and replacing them with a computer tablet or similar device.

On the revenue side, a hike of facility rental fees remains under consideration. Board members rejected boosting student registration fees to reduce the budget gap.

Board members didn't object to Correll proposing that she return $11,000 of the $17,000 the district pays toward her medical coverage.

"We're looking at every penny we can find to reduce this deficit," Correll said.

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