Grayslake District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll brought out the easel Wednesday to review with the school board various ways to plug the district's $1.2 million budget deficit, which includes her offer to return $11,000 of the $17,000 the district pays for her health insurance.
On a related note, a vote to extend Correll's $170,844 annual contract through June 2014 failed for a second time. The vote ended in a 3-3 tie (as it did on Oct. 17). Board member Sue Facklam was again absent. To pass, the measure will need a majority vote in favor. Any board member can bring the motion back for yet another vote.
The majority of Wednesday's meeting involved discussion of potential budget savings, no matter how small they may seem, such as covering classroom shelves with white instead of colored paper and stopping newspaper subscriptions.
"We're looking at every penny we can find to reduce the deficit," said Correll.
Some of the areas that have been under review include:
- Reducing summer projects: Already in budget to reduce by $750,000.
- Closing a school: Still under review, could take up to two years.
- Reducing substitute pay: Still under review, but projected savings is $12,000.
- Reducing bus routes: Convert hazardous walking routes by installing sidewalks on Route 83 near Frederick School by way of a grant the village is working to secure.
- Investigating year-round school: The district determined this would actually increase costs.
- Blending grade schools to have grade-level centers: Correll will meet with superintendents from schools already doing this to determine cost savings.
- Eliminating textbooks: Concept is still three to five years out. There is a future cost savings, but alternatives to books, such as iPads, would need to be secured.
- Increasing registration fees: Board consensus appears to be against doing this.
- Bringing kitchen facilities back to cook food on-site: Costs would actually increase given necessary equipment purchases.
- Increasing building/facilities rental fees: Proposal is to increase rental fees by $1 to generate $17,000 in revenue. Further review is planned.
- Reducing staff mileage reimbursement: Potential savings is $12,000 a year. However, board member Shannon Smigielski suggested staff seek reimbursement through declaration on their income tax return.
- Reducing staff cell phone reimbursement: Reimbursement has already been reduced from $30 to $15.
- Eliminating staff credit or "P" cards: Still under review because the district does receive a small amount of revenue associated with card benefits.
- Reducing health insurance costs: The board is currently comparing the costs of several plans.
- Reducing legal fees: Board consensus is yes. Smigielski suggested the board seek new counsel as soon as teacher contract negotiations are settled. So far, said Correll, the district has paid $45,000 in legal fees related to negotiations.
- Eliminating reimbursement for travel to out-of-town conferences and dinners: Board consensus is to refuse out-of-state travel on the district's dime and to find alternate ways to pay for certain professional development events, such as with grant funds.
- Hiring a grant writer: Still under review, but Correll said a salary of $40,000 could return 10 times that in secured grants.
The board is also planning to negotiate a new printer lease to save money and has already cut the business office budget by $3,000 and annual bank fees by $3,000.
Following the presentation, Smigielski asked Correll when they would speak publicly about the elephant in the room--potential staff cuts.
Correl said she would have a "good idea" about what's going to be necessary by the end of January.
"There definitely will be staff reductions," she said.
The board has canceled its Nov. 21 meeting due to the Thanksgiving break. The board meets next on Dec. 5. The tentative agenda includes presentation of the 2012 tax levy.
Grayslake D46 Approves Deficit Budget
Grayslake D46 Board Looks To Plug $1.25 Million Budget Deficit
Vote to Extend D46 Superintendent Contract Fails