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updated: 4/3/2014 12:54 AM

Enrollment drop leads to staff cuts in District 220

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To accommodate for falling enrollment, 11 full-time teaching and 16.5 support staff positions will be eliminated next school year at Barrington Unit District 220 elementary schools, according to the district.

"Annual staff reductions such as these are somewhat routine due to continuing enrollment declines in Barrington 220's elementary grades," a summary sheet provided by the district reads. "(Elementary grades) have experienced a 14 percent drop in the districtwide student population since 2009."

Jeff Arnett, district spokesman, said the enrollment decrease is mostly in the lower elementary grades. Students entering kindergarten and first grades were born about the time of the economic downturn of 2008, he noted.

"The prevailing theory is that the economic downturn negatively affected the birthrate," Arnett said.

With fewer students, the district needs fewer teachers, classroom aides and other staff members to stay within its class-size guidelines, officials say.

According to the district, 68 percent of elementary school classrooms will have fewer students than the class-size guidelines. Another 26 percent will be within the guidelines, and just 6 percent, or 10 classrooms, will have too many students, by the district's standards.

Arnett said the district has the authority to rehire some of the staff members who will be let go if enrollment increases as the school year approaches. The board approved a contingency of four full-time positions to be used if hiring additional teachers, support staff or both.

The board's final budget will not be approved until September, but state law requires teachers be told in March if their positions could be eliminated.

Arnett said the timing is unfortunate because there are so many unknowns between now and when the school year starts in the fall, and some people may be told they're no longer needed and then rehired over the summer.

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