School district’s proposed cuts raise concerns
Students, graduates, parents, former teachers and teachers asked the Fairfield school board to reconsider their possible plans to close Libertyville Elementary School, discontinue French classes and reduce the number of speech team coaches as cost-saving measures.
A dozen people addressed the school board about the proposed actions, although board president Gail Miller announced the issue was not on the agenda for the regular monthly meeting Monday night.
The issue will be on the agenda for a work session at 7 p.m. Monday at the Administration/Curriculum/Technology Center, Miller continued. She explained no public input would be taken at the work session, but everyone is welcome to attend to listen to the discussion. No decisions can be made at the work session; a decision would have to be made at the board’s regular meeting in February, she said.
Superintendent Don Achelpohl said the public comments took some board members by surprise because they had not yet been updated about the finance committee’s latest cost-savings proposals; that update will happen during the work session.
In December, the district began a process to reduce its expenditures by $800,000 for the 2011-2012 school year, and the school board requested an additional reduction of $300,000.
“It’s tough to come up with that figure,” said Achelpohl. “But the administration team is working hard to come up with a plan that will continue to serve students and cut programs the least.”
The administration team developed a list of recommendations including a reduction in staff at elementary, middle and high school levels that could impact programs and offerings as well as extracurricular areas.
One of the proposed deductions is to eliminate the high school’s French classes. Another is to eliminate one of the three high school speech team coaches, and closing Libertyville Elementary School in an effort to save on utility, personnel and transportation costs also was discussed.
Achelpohl said administrators had informed staff members about the committee’s proposed cuts.
“We never want to blindside our staff,” he said. “We want to be honest.”
If the board agrees with the finance committee’s recommendation, the reduction-in-force process could start as early as the February board meeting.
If the board agrees to close Libertyville school, the district would need to follow the Barker Guidelines, which include holding public meetings to gather input from concerned citizens.
For the complete article, see the Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011, printed edition of The Fairfield Ledger.