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updated: 3/7/2013 12:19 AM

Grayslake Dist. 46 nixes plan to raise school fees

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Grayslake Elementary District 46 board members have rejected a recommendation to raise school fees as part of an effort to close a projected $2.2 million budget hole for the next academic year.

District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll at a meeting Wednesday night pitched the idea of a $10 fee hike for students in kindergarten through eighth grade starting in 2013-14.

The move had been expected to bring in less than $30,000, officials said, because the added charge would not involve pupils receiving free or reduced-price lunch.

"I'm the first one to not want to increase fees on our parents," Correll said.

Board members Karen Weinert, Michael Carbone and Kip Evans were part of a 3-2 vote against the fee hike. Keith Surroz and board President Ray Millington were in favor.

While Correll said District 46 hasn't boosted fees for three years, Carbone contended the move would have particularly hurt families with more than one child in school.

Board members also addressed potential cuts for 2013-14. District 46 administrators recently met to address ideas on how to shrink the budget deficit by an estimated $1.8 million.

One possible cut originally would eliminate seventh- and eighth-grade Spanish to save $100,0000. Correll said Wednesday that concerns from Carbone led her to now recommend dropping just seventh-grade Spanish in 2013-14.

But Carbone said it would be a "disservice" to eliminate any part of what he called one of District 46's highlights.

"It's a great way to prepare for high school," Carbone said.

Under the preliminary plan, average class sizes would go up. Average class sizes would be 25 students in kindergarten through second grade and go up to 30 pupils in grades 3 through 8.

Increased class sizes would lead to the dismissal of about 15 teachers at a savings of $725,000, officials said. The cuts would be decided through evaluation ratings and districtwide seniority.

In addition, about $100,000 could be saved by eliminating two social workers. The district has identified another $200,000 in potential savings by reducing special education caseloads at five schools.

Correll said board members must decide on cuts at a meeting later this month because she wants to give direction to district employees by spring break.

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