St. Charles School Board considers $2 million in cuts

By Kalen Ponche

Next school year, high school students will pay more for parking permits, middle school students won’t have access to activity buses and all students will likely walk farther to their bus stop under a series of proposed cuts to the St. Charles School District’s budget.

St. Charles School Board met Monday to discuss budget cuts for the 2010-11 school year. The $2 million in  proposed reductions include:

– Cuts to transportation= $411,000 reduction. The district has already cut four high school buses this year and plans to cut ten more between the middle and elementary schools next year. With more children on each bus, the trips will be more cost-effective, but it may mean children have to walk to the end of their subdivision to get picked up so the bus can get to school on time, said District Superintendent Randy Charles.

The district would also end the practice of clustering all of the students who are learning English at one school, which would cut transportation costs. Activity buses, which take children home who stay after school for tutoring or clubs, would also be eliminated from the middle schools starting next year. 

– Staff cuts: $1,165,000 reduction. Thirteen and a half teaching positions, two A+ coordinator positions, two teacher leader positions would be eliminated through attrition. In addition, the district would eliminate three library aides, two part time lunch room/playground aides, one psych examiner and five certified positions.

– Cut summer school: $237,000 reduction.

–  Miscellaneous cuts: $308,766 reduction. No tuition reimbursement for teachers,  reduce supply budgets by 5 percent, increase high school parking permits from $20 to $50, smaller salary increase for some administrator positions.  

With cuts planned for the middle school activity buses, Charles also proposed cutting reimbursements by 1/3 for teachers and staff that stay after school to run activities like sports or tutoring.

Board president Linda Schultz pointed out that once funding is gone for teacher reimbursements, it can be difficult to bring back.

“A lot of the kids have no place to go,” she said. ‘We keep them busy. I hate to see us cut it.”

Charles said without the activity buses it’s likely fewer children will stay after school Board member Dale Hallemeier suggested taking the money that remains after the cuts and dividing it among the schools on a per-pupil basis.

The board also discussed cutting the district’s funding for the Parents As Teachers program entirely. PAT offers free education to parents about their children’s development from birth to age 5 and screens children for developmental delays. Early screening often gets children into the appropriate services quicker, said Charles.  For now, the district’s $100,000 contribution to the program remains in the budget for next year.

For more information on the district’s long-term financial outlook, check out my story in Sunday’s Suburban Journal.

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