Plainfield Superintendent John Harper unveiled about $7.6 million in proposed cuts Monday night that included cutting 112 full-time equivalent positions as well as changing school times.
The Plainfield School Board did not take public comments or vote on the proposal because they heard the plan for the first time Monday night. Harper was directed to make cuts to eliminate the entire $6.7 million projected deficit for next school year without increasing student fees other than the registration fees already approved by the board.
To save $598,298, Harper recommended a triple tier bussing system that would save money by having a bus driver handle three routes instead of two.This bussing system would eliminate the need for about 30 buses by tightening transportation schedules and adjusting school times.
However, Harper said he understood this recommendation could prove controversial since school times would change drastically for the high schools.
Currently, students at Plainfield South and Plainfield East high schools attend school from 8:10 a.m. to 3:21 p.m. while Plainfield Central and Plainfield North students attend 7:20 a.m. to 2:31 p.m.
With the proposed change, all high school students would attend 7:05 a.m. to 2:16 p.m. which would be about an hour and five minute adjustment for Plainfield South and Plainfield East students and about a 15-minute difference for Plainfield Central and Plainfield North.
If approved, all seven middle school students would attend from 8 a.m. to 3:01 p.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. to 2:31 p.m.
All elementary school students would attend from 9:10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. instead of 8:55 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Lakewood Falls would have a 10-minute difference to reduce car traffic near Creekside Elementary.
"Notice, we did not cut any minutes from the instructional day," Harper said.
However, high school and middle school students will have to walk longer to their bus stops. He estimates students will walk will increase from two-tenths of a mile to four-tenths of a mile. There will be no change for the elementary school students.
"We recognize that for two of our high schools this is quite an adjustment to the day," he said.
Also, during Standard Daylight Time, elementary students would be coming home at 4:15 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. when it is close to getting dark, he said.
Overall, the administrative recommendation would cut about 12 percent more than the anticipated $6.7 million deficit if the school board decides to keep the provision to implement a triple tier bussing system.
"If the board chooses to not include the triple tier bussing recommendation, we could remove it and still meet our goal of eliminating about $6.9 million," Harper said.
"The adminstration is not recommending that we eliminate $7.5 million when the deficit is $6.7 million. But at the same time, however, we recognize the potential controversy over triple tier bussing and the changing of school times. If the board does not embrace that recommendation, we can remove that from the recommendation and still arrive at $6.9 million in savings to eliminate the $6.7," Harper said.
If the school board embraces the new school times, Harper said there is some opportunity to add back some positions.
"We recognize there are some challenges with this and we also recognize the potential savings and the opportunity to save some positions," Harper said.
He said there are lot of questions they don't have answers for such as what happens to early bird classes in the high schools. Harper thinks those classes may turn into late bird classes, if it turns into anything at all.
Harper's complete recommendation is posted on the district website at www.psd202.org.
He recommended cutting 112.1 full-time equivalent administrative, certified and non-certified positions, including:
- 9.4 full-time equivalent (FTE) administrative positions to save $959,208. This represents 6.9 percent of the total administrative category. These cuts would include:
Consolidating the curriculum and instruction and student services departments into a new "Department of Teaching and Learning" and eliminating the assistant superintendent for student services position. Assistant Superintendent Sharon Gronemeyer would return on a 100-day consulting contract next year to help the transition for a total savings of $247,446.
Eliminating one district student services director and one district administration and personnel director for a savings of $297,625.
Eliminating the English Language Learner Assistant Director position for a savings of $123,167.
Eliminating one assistant/associate principal position at Plainfield Central, Plainfield East and Plainfield North high schools. No reduction would be made at Plainfield South High School because that building's enrollment is significantly higher than the other three for a savings of $290,970.
Cuts to the teachers union: 56.7 FTE certified positions to save $3,903,872. This represents 3 percent of the total certified staff. These cuts would include:
- 12 Reading Recovery positions, while offsetting the initial impact of this loss by bolstering reading support by four FTE positions. These four positions would be assigned as needed to help implement a new reading intervention program and assist the most challenged readers, saving $804,808.
- 15 differentiation specialists as the district transitions to another model for providing accelerated curriculum for elementary gifted students, saving $1,006,010.
- 10 middle and high school instructional technology specialists, saving $670,673.
- Consolidating various high school courses, allowing for the elimination of six FTE teaching positions, saving $402,404. For example, combining German III with honors German would save money.
Restructuring the high school physical education/health curriculum, allowing for larger classes to save four FTE teaching positions, saving $268,269.
Eliminating the Catalyst program, which helps high school students who have committed various infractions to return to their regular school environment as soon as possible, with appropriate supports. While Catalyst is a highly effective program, it very expensive since it serves only about two percent of the student population, Harper said. By eliminating Catalyst, the district will save $403,203.
Cuts to support staff union: 45 FTE non-certified positions to save $1,615,911. This represents 6.8 percent of the total non-certified category. These cuts would include:
- Four FTE high school secretarial positions, saving $189,823.
- One office clerk each at Aux Sable, Timber Ridge and John F. Kennedy middle schools, saving $85,775.
- Reducing four registered nurse positions, saving $177,057.
- Restructuring the middle school "in school suspension" program, allowing the elimination of seven FTE positions, saving $194,134.
- Eliminating four 11-month high school bookkeeper positions, saving $178,816.
-Eliminating the community relations coordinator position to save $81,798.
Overall budgetary cuts to save $991,577. These cuts would include: Cutting building and departmental budgets by 5 percent to save $355,659. Eliminate building administrator cell phones to save $37,620.
The board is expected to hold at least one public forum in January to hear public comment on the proposed budget cuts.