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Board OKs plan to cut Dist. 201 deficit

Student fees will increase for ’13-’14

MINOOKA — Minooka Grade School District 201 projects a savings of $768,000 or more for the 2013-2014 school year with the approval of a deficit reduction plan voted on last Wednesday.

Due to a reduction of over $120 million in the district’s EAV over the last two years and reduced revenue from state and federal aid, the district has a multi-million dollar deficit. Property tax loss affected the education fund alone by more than $2 million last year.

The district is in the fourth year of its deficit reduction plan. The goal was to cut $2.4 million from the budget. So far, they’ve cut a little over $3 million, said Superintendent Al Gegenheimer.

“We did that through efficiencies,” Gegenheimer said. “We have cut to the bone and that’s reflected in our per-pupil operating expense.”

Minooka District 201’s per-pupil cost is $7,495, compared to the state average of around $12,000.
The district continues to earn the Bright Star Award for high student performance at low cost, said Gegenheimer.

The biggest cost savings will come from the district’s own health insurance fund surplus with a transfer of $500,000 to the education fund.

District 201 is now self-insured and pays the bulk of claims directly, resulting in a significant surplus that can be transferred to help offset a portion of the deficit.

“This is not something that can be continuously done,” Gegenheimer said.

Student registration fees will go up next year, reflecting a $10 to $14 increase per student.

Students in Early Childhood and kindergarten will pay $105 and first  through eighth grades will be charged $150, or $134 if no physical education uniform is purchased. The increased registration will bring in $30,000.

Similarly, student activity fees will be raised from $30 to $40, for a revenue increase of $10,000.

A $5,000 savings will be made by replacing a crowd control person at junior high sports games with volunteer staff and charging $1 admission fee for 6th grade games.

Last August, the board of education approved decentralization from the Grundy County Special Education Co-op’s pre-school diagnostic team for the upcoming year. By adding one social worker and using existing staff, the district will save $90,000.

A few positions will be eliminated. Minooka, Jones and Aux Sable elementary schools will lose their part-time cashiers, at a savings of $20,000. School secretaries will fill the void.

Other cost savings measures will save $118,000 or more. They include sharing a technology person with a neighboring school district; replacing a retiring teacher with a first-year teacher, saving salary and benefit costs; including one-on-one special education aides in a Medicaid fee for service reimbursement; renting out space in the district to outside programs, such as Montessori pre-school, Grundy County Special Education Co-op STARS and Bridges programs; reducing printing costs by 10 percent districtwide; and pursuing more grant funding and revenue opportunities.

“We are always trying to find a little something to tweak, but we really don’t have a lot more to trim,” said Gegenheimer. “We just don’t have any more major cuts to make.”

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