Dist. 220 cuts jobs, $2 million from budget

After a painful, two-month process of deliberation, Barrington Unit District 220 board members Tuesday made official a plan to cut $2 million and several staff positions from next year's budget.

This is the third straight year the district has made significant budget and personnel cuts because of continuing uncertainties in both the economy and the level and timing of state funding.

“We'll continue to monitor issues with the state between now and the beginning of the school year,” board President Brian Battle said. “To the extent we can adjust some things, we will.”

The net reductions to staffing include 1.8 full-time teaching positions, 10.3 full-time support staff positions, 0.8 full-time administrative positions and 41.5 stipends to oversee various student programs and activities.

While these net cuts reflect the effect on the budget, they do not fully reflect the number of people being laid off.

In fact, 7.4 full-time teaching positions are being cut. However, 5.6 new positions are being added — a combination of 3.5 literacy coach positions and 2.1 additional contingency positions that may be used in areas where next year's student population requires them.

But of the 7.4 full-time certified positions being cut, 6.7 would have been recommended anyway because of declining student enrollment — apart from any other budget considerations — administrators said.

Though the annual budget isn't actually approved until September, a major part of the budgeting process occurs in the winter because school districts are required by law to inform staff who may be laid off at the end of the school year by late March.

Superintendent Tom Leonard said it's common for school districts' financial outlook in mid-March to seem to require more layoffs than becomes the case a couple of months later.

In many instances, teachers given notice are later hired back, Leonard said.

The board of education declined the teachers union's request to halve the amount of cuts by spending $1 million of the district's more than $30 million in reserves.

The union likewise declined the board's request to reopen negotiation of the current teachers contract.