New preschool program among likely cuts in Elk Grove Township District 59
A Elk Grove Township District 59 preschool program started last year will no longer be free and fewer children will participate in summer school programming as part of a cost-savings plan.
Eleven employees who are either retiring or leaving the district will not be replaced as part of the effort to trim spending by $10 million over the next two years.
The free preschool program started in July was intended for 4-year-old children who didn't qualify for state and federal grant funding but whose families may not be able to afford preschool. The idea was to help children in an underserved middle ground. With an enrollment of 80 students, the program was full this year.
Next school year, tuition will be $226 per month for "typically developing" children enrolled in the half-day program, which meets four times a week. At-risk and special education students who qualify for state and federal grant funding will continue to receive free preschool.
Another measure will see as many as 250 fewer students in summer school. Last summer, 678 students participated in programming, compared to a maximum enrollment of 420 this year. That's in part because the district will offer summer school only at Rupley Elementary School in Elk Grove Village rather than four sites. The district will save money by operating and staffing fewer schools.
Meanwhile, the district is ramping up its efforts to reach more students over summer break, including family nights with book exchanges, activity stations and parent education sessions. The district also is launching a communication campaign to provide families with website links to educational content via text messages and emails.
"We just want to make sure we're reaching out to all our students and parents," Superintendent Art Fessler said. "We've heard they want to be more active in learning at home."
The cuts also will affect staffing. Three departing administrators and about eight retiring teachers will not be replaced.
Fessler said the district is looking for ways to combine some sections of classes with fewer students so the overall class-size average does not increase.
"There is no plan to understaff, but to look at all efficiencies," he said. "We think we can recapture the seven or eight retirees and it won't affect class-size averages.
The district is reducing spending in part because a group of residents opposed borrowing up to $20 million in bonds. Issuing bonds would have cost the average resident with a $250,000 home a maximum of an extra $20 annually until 2024.
The bonds would have helped pay for the new administration building underway in Elk Grove Village, fund school construction projects and offset deficit spending.
Now the district has been finding ways to trim the budget because a self-imposed policy requires the district to cut costs when the reserve fund falls to 60 percent of the annual operating budget.