Grayslake Elementary District 46 board members Wednesday night made a dent in a projected $2.2 million deficit for the 2013-14 academic year by approving a package of cuts that included teacher layoffs.
About 15 full-time classroom instructors were eliminated for an estimated $750,000 in savings. Roughly another $200,000 is expected to be saved with the dismissal of four full-time special-education teachers.
Superintendent Ellen Correll said principals and others on District 46's leadership team spent about four weeks discussing the recommended cuts in an effort to not negatively affect children's education.
"I wish we could keep everything," Correll said. "I wish there was no deficit."
Board members took line-item votes on the cuts that totaled about $1.3 million. The officials will discuss further reductions at their next meeting in April in an attempt to reach the $2.2 million mark.
"We have to have more discussions because we are not even close to our (deficit)," board member Karen Weinert said.
Under the plan, average class sizes could rise with fewer instructors while still remaining within limits established by the district, Correll said. Average class sizes would be 25 students in kindergarten through second grade and up to 30 pupils in grades 3 through 8.
Teacher cuts will be decided through evaluation ratings and districtwide seniority, officials said.
Elected officials rejected a recommendation to eliminate two or so physical education instructors through trimming gym classes by 10 minutes. The move to cut daily gym from 40 minutes to 30 minutes could have saved $125,000 under the proposal.
Board member Susan Facklam voiced concern about trimming gym, citing the problem of childhood obesity and the lack of activity associated with it.
Correll said the state requires daily gym for students but doesn't prescribe how long such classes must run.
Other measures to fill the budget gap approved by the board included reducing the superintendent's budget by $5,000, cutting the elected officials' expenditures by $19,500 and slicing technology spending by $50,000.
Cuts: Board will discuss another nearly $1 million in cuts at April meeting