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Article posted: 4/26/2013 5:29 PM

Grayslake D46 board rejects cutting five employees

By Bob Susnjara

Grayslake Elementary District 46 board members have rejected the administration's recommendation to dismiss media employees in an effort to trim a projected $2.2 million deficit for the 2013-14 academic year.

Elected officials this week received the proposal to release the five media assistants to save district taxpayers $155,000 annually.

But board members voted 4-2 against cutting the workers. Board member Susan Facklam, who was part of the foursome to reject the recommendation, said she was concerned there were no options in place on how the media assistants' duties would be covered in 2013-14 if they were dropped.

"It makes this decision very difficult," Facklam said at a meeting Wednesday.

Officials said about $1.7 million in cuts have been achieved, but more is needed to prevent the projected $2.2 million deficit for the next academic season. At a meeting earlier this month, the board voted against eliminating art and music programs for kindergarten through eighth grade for a potential $225,000 in annual savings.

Efforts also are being made to fill the budget gap with more revenue. Board members next week are to vote on an administration recommendation to boost first-through-eighth-grade school fees by $10 for 2013-14, followed by a $25 hike for kindergarten in 2014-15.

Officials debated the idea of raising the fees when they met Wednesday. Board member Michael Carbone said considering District 46 is collecting more in property taxes again this year, the fee increases to raise just an extra $30,000 annually would be another financial hit.

"You nickel and dime. People can't stand that," said Carbone, who rejected the recommendation to cut the media workers.

But board member Keith Surroz, who voted to eliminate the five media assistants to save money, said his colleagues who are unwilling to make cuts or raise fees must ask if they want to keep spending on the way to a deficit.

"At some point, you have to come out and say, 'Yeah, I want to deficit spend.' That's worth it," Surroz said. "Because if you say nothing and do nothing, we will deficit spend. We'll default to that position."

Budget cuts that have been made include the elimination of about 15 full-time classroom instructors for an estimated $750,000 in annual savings. Roughly another $200,000 is expected to be saved with the dismissal of four full-time special-education teachers.

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