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Hall looking for some painless cuts

SPRING VALLEY – Hall High School Superintendent Mike Struna is looking at the numbers, and the picture isn’t pretty.

“I’m trying to find $300,000 without cutting any more staff members,” Struna told his board Wednesday. “I’d rather not do any of this.”

But Struna said the cuts have to be made.

Struna said the amount of money the district receives from the state has been cut for three years in a row.

This year’s state aid was prorated at 89 percent, for a loss to the district of $130,000. When that is added to cuts in special education grants, transportation reimbursement and a reduction in corporate personal property replacement tax, it adds up to about a $190,000 shortfall for the year.

Struna said Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan would cut another $300,000 from education, with half coming from general state aid and the other half taken out of transportation. If the plan is approved, the general state aid paid to districts would be prorated at 82 percent, or $5,452 per student.

“Next year it could be more a loss of more than $200,000,” Struna said. “That’s a chunk of money for us.”

Another factor is timing. Struna said districts won’t know until July how much money they will actually receive. That’s too late to cut any certified staff, who would have had to have been notified in March.

However, Struna said the district can still cut custodial and cafeteria staff, who only required 30 days notice.

Three years ago, in an effort to cut expenses, the district eliminated 10 positions – six teachers, three teachers aides and one secretary.

To deal with the current issues, Struna said he is looking at deficit reduction without cutting staff.

Struna then discussed a plan for saving $215,000.

Part of that savings has already been realized. Last month the board decided not to replace the retiring business teacher, but instead filled the position with David Lasser from the guidance department. Struna said that will save the district about $90,000.

Last year’s purchase of drivers education cars will also result in savings next year, Struna said.

Struna then went through some more possibilities. He suggested the board consider not going to the annual school board convention in Chicago in November.

Another savings could come be cutting back the number of hair tests for drug use and use more urine tests, which would save $1,000.

Cutting technology purchases in half would save $20,000, and cutting periodicals in the library, eliminating such magazines as Golf, New Yorker and Vogue, could save another $2,000.

The only revenue increase proposed by Struna would raise the lunch cost by 50 cents, which would bring in $5,000 in new revenue.

The board will vote on the plan at its May meeting.

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