Elgin-area schools plan layoffs

March 12, 2009 3:21:27 PM PDT
The second largest school district in Illinois is forced to make budget cuts and that means jobs will be lost. Elgin School District U-46 is looking to cut more than 300 positions. The district serves over 40,000 students in 53 schools in Cook, DuPage and Kane counties.

Elgin School District U-46 is the second largest in the state behind Chicago. The district want to eliminate up to 350 jobs to reduce spending by $17 million for the next school year.

"All the indicators tell us that revenue is going to be down. And because we are committed to having a balanced budget, we need to respond now," said John Prince, Elgin School District U-46.

The board is expected to approve the cuts at its meeting on Monday. They must then notify the employees by mid-March if they are not retained.

In an effort to minimize the impact on students, the reductions will affect administrative support employees, instructional support personnel and operational support staff.

"With each of these positions, it's trying to minimize the impact on students, trying to serve more students than what we currently do, and that's why you'll see that we are deliberately staying away from teachers," said Tony Sanders, district spokesperson.

A total of 14 percent of the administrators and administrative support positions will be eliminated, including secretaries, 8 percent of the operational staff, including bus drivers, aides and technical staff, and 7 percent of the instructional support staff, including special education staff, librarians and nurses.

"At the same time, we're going to hire lower-cost registered nurses to backfill and actually provide more nursing services for students, not less," said Sanders.

Prince said schools are a business, and they have to be run like a big business, and sometimes you're forced to make cuts when you don't want to.

"Taxpayers expect us to be fiscally responsible," said Prince.

"Federal stimulus money will be hugely important, but it won't solve all the problems," said Ken Swanson, Illinois Education Association president.

School officials say that if the budget cuts are approved on Monday they will have to notify people, but hopefully someday those that last their jobs will be able to return.

The teachers union in Elgin is not happy the job cuts will impact special education students but realizes that decision is being driven by the economy.