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DeKalb School District 428 looks at deficit

Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 10:24 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – The DeKalb School District 428 board discussed a budget deficit of $1.4 million during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

The board approved all-day kindergarten at all district elementary schools to help reduce the deficit. Board member Holly Wallace was not present.

Board President Mike Verbic said all-day kindergarten benefits student achievement. By implementing all-day kindergarten, more funding in general state aid (GSA) will be accumulated by allowing the district to claim full-day attendance. The district also expects to save approximately $77,000 by eliminating midday bus routes of kindergartners.

Along with all-day kindergarten classes, the board also voted in favor of incorporating two middle school assistant principal positions. The two positions will not cost the district additional funds because a current principal retired and the assistant principal position was eliminated at Littlejohn Elementary School.

The all-day kindergarten would also be paid for by not filling four custodial staff positions at the new high school until the district has more revenue.

The board also determined district budget deficits based on GSA funding. If the GSA doesn’t increase, the district will have a deficit of $1.4 million. If the GSA increases by $100, the budget deficit will be $877,000; if it increases by $200, the deficit will be $337,000; if it increases by $300, the district would see a surplus of $202,000.

The state superintendent requested a GSA increase of $297, but Superintendent Jim Briscoe said getting that amount likely will not be approved. He said Gov. Pat Quinn is looking at increasing GSA by $200, which Briscoe is more confident about getting.

He said next year is going to be tough for the district financially, but the 2012-2013 school year will be even more difficult if some of the budget deficits aren’t addressed now.

“We don’t want a situation where, if the state falls apart, we can’t deal with things,” Briscoe said.

He said the next cuts that need to be made if the district doesn’t get an increase in GSA include funding for activities, sports and clubs.

The board also touched on class sizes, which Verbic said could be increased only if staff members were moved around. He said as of now, class sizes are under caps of 28 students at the middle school level and 35 students at the high school level.

Andrea Gorla, assistant superintendent of business and finance for the district, said a $21 million grant from the state Capital Development Board could free up some operational funds that could help reduce the deficit.

“A lot will hinge on what everyone decides to do with that $21 million,” she said. “In essence, it does free up operational dollars.”

In other business, the board approved a new name for Huntley Middle School after students submitted suggestions in an essay contest. The school now will be called Founders Elementary School.

Lauren Duffin, a third-grader at Lincoln Elementary School, submitted the Founders Falcons in the “To Be Named” essay competition. She suggested the name because Jacob Haish, Isaac Ellwood and Joseph Glidden were the founders of barbed wire, and because schools in DeKalb that were named after them have been torn down.

The current DeKalb High School building will be renamed Huntley Middle School, and the current Wright Elementary School building will be renamed Malta Elementary School.

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