District 308 Narrows Budget Deficit to $3.8 Million

District will delay in hiring of some staff and delay purchase of new textbooks.

Four weeks ago the Board released a budget for Fiscal Year 2013 that contained a

That amount has been narrowed to $3.8 million, Superintendent Matthew Wendt announced at Monday night's board meeting.

In fact, Wendt said the budget deficit had actually started at just over $7.5 million, but several weeks of effort in July and August had decreased it to the $5.5 million presented in the original draft.

Wendt said “bold moves” were made to decrease the budget by $1.7 million.

“We’re really doing a great job of cutting where we need to, but not affecting the classroom, which is key,” he said.

The cuts include:

  • Delaying the hiring of additional custodial staff at Murphy Junior High
  • Delaying hiring of some staff
  • Eliminating consulting fees
  • Delaying the purchase of some textbooks, specifically junior high math textbooks
  • Scale back on some technology purchases

“Not to say we don’t need new textbooks,” said Wendt, “but we need also understand that elementary curriculum ties should be aligned with higher levels.”

As for the technology, Wendt said some purchases have been made with federal dollars because of the Title One school status for some locations.

“We’re headed in the right direction,” said Wendt. “I don’t want any surprises. But when we start getting to that $3 million or under range [in budget cuts] we’re going to start to notice it in our schools.”

District 308 will be pursuing E-Rate reimbursements, for which they believe there is about $400k worth of reimbursements dating back to FY 2011.

Wendt said that based on the cuts made, and to reduce the affect on the school, he feels the district will need to use cash reserves.

Board member Dave Behrens said he didn’t have a problem with using the cash reserves, so long as there is a plan.

“Technology is going to get worse, textbooks are going to get worse,” he said. “This would be a one year flip.”

Wendt also said there are parts of the budget that have yet to be examined, and that the budget always looks different later in the year.

“There’s going to be revenue that can offset on paper what we would use from the reserve.”

Board member Alison Swanson asked how the budget deficit will impact taxpayers.

“Right now there wouldn’t be one because we’d be pulling from the reserves,” said board president Bill Walsh.

The final budget will be presented and voted on at the Sept. 24 board meeting at .

ayar September 12, 2012 at 07:18 PM
@Loreta - I didn't say "give up" technology, I'm saying we can afford to skip this round of upgrades [$$$$] on a tight budget and still "keep current" for the next couple of years. As far as getting ahead and keeping up - we need more than technology to empower our children with the skills needed for the future, especially looking at the level of technical jobs being offshored.
Loreta J. September 12, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Ayar, I absolutely agree with you. We do need more than just technology. That's why I said the combination of tech with the other basics is so essential. I also agree that cuts are appropriate, and hopefully they can find ones that can be made over a short period of time and not affect the quality of the technical education, or any other area of education for that matter, that they are getting now. I think we are both on the same page here and we appreciate the fact that 308 has a good offering in this area, and needs to keep us current, while being fiscally responsible.
Robert Green September 12, 2012 at 07:28 PM
How about Parents Buying school books and then if their kids don't chew them up, they can resell them to the next year's students who need them!?! That would take a Huge expense out of the School District's budget!!! How about working on Waubonsee to lower their minimum age to allow Juniors into technology classes or classes that are becoming too expensive for the High Schools to maintain and then those students who really want to study technology or other non-Reading, Writing and Arithmetic classes can pay for the tuition at Waubonsee!?! How about "Settling" on administrators who are not feathered from Head to Toe with honors and doctorates but are merely capable so that the job can get done with a more reasonable outlay of salaries!?! Maybe a few more Kids in each classroom and a little less building!?! Perhaps instead of reaching for the stars, we just shoot for the moon until the district is flush with cash again and we don't have to kill the taxpayers!?!
Walt Hines September 12, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Cindy got this one correct!!! The taxes get any higher here and I'm gong to be walking away from my home, tried to sell but it's the taxes that kept killing the deal. Does anyone know if we still own the land on rt126? If we do isn't that something that we can get rid of. I'm sure we didn't pay cash for that and if we did why not sell or at least try to. There has got to be areas that we can cut that are doable for all. Frankly I can't see any way around going to the tax payer for more when it comes time to open those additions, good luck with that one.
JimmyJ September 13, 2012 at 12:31 AM
I went to school in Chicago in the mid 1970's and we went a full day K-5 was 830 to 3:15 and High School was 730am to 315pm, often times later depending on the whims of the band director. How did they end up with the short day and year that they have now? Who is responsible for that? Now when they want to restore the school day to the same length most of the teachers attended when they were kids it's some sort of crime. Now in a district that's 600 Million in the hole ( and we thing 3 million is bad) what they want amounts to adding another 400 million to it, who pays for that? When do you put your foot down and say there is no money. They can be replaced.
JimmyJ September 13, 2012 at 12:31 AM
I meant K-8 where I said K-5
JimmyJ September 13, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Two of those good leaders, while being here a long time and having a lot of friends and supporters in the district ran schools that failed to make AYP for two years. It's an unfortunate way to measure but it is what it is for now. Perhaps they left before getting fired.
JimmyJ September 13, 2012 at 12:36 AM
When the BOE ( a past one ) asked the administration to pay 10% of their insurance, it was bloody hell, Colvin did the moaning and groaning for all of them with the old song "but other districts have better packages" routine. Notice they all left....humm...we're here for the kids....we were here for free insurance was more likely.
Robyn Vickers September 13, 2012 at 02:58 AM
@JimmyJ, do you understand how AYP works? Ive seen you make this claim before, and it's totally unwarranted.
JimmyJ September 13, 2012 at 03:12 AM
@Robyn...I understand that if you make a comment against a teacher or popular administrator you catch hell. Since neither person spoke publically on their decision to leave, my assumption is as valid as it is to blame the so called "conditions" the BofE created. If a school or anything else is supposed to make a set goal and it doesn't repeatedly then what happens, who is held accountable? Not the teacher, they have tenure, so maybe the administrator who is non union and is in place to implement the programs and policy. I knew both of them and knew Tracy well starting back when she was assistant to Colvin at Thompson. I'm not making any comments other than offering a comment. I know that's generally frowned upon here on the Patch by those who consider themselves "in the know" and by those who like to quote facts and figures. I know what happens for students when a school doesn't make AYP. If it is set as a goal and the goal is not met ( yes I think NCLB sucks but that's a different argument for a different day) then who is accountable? Can 100% of students be at 94, 95, 100 % ? No. But until you opt out, someone is accountable. The reason that's my feeling is timing, new boss coming, maybe you aren't doing as well as you could have, you get a nice offer elsewhere so why not go. I refuse to believe that two extremely seasoned veterans of multiple superintendent and Board changes left because of 4 of 7 members of the current board, thats nonsense
Oswegosmarts September 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Couple items, 1. when you use outside comparibles like Chicago, or Lake Forest and use them in the same context as Oswego is ridiculous. Demographics are not the same. 2. There is a ton of nepotism in our district. This happens in many public sector jobs, Police, Fire, Public Works etc. The board has inherited many old problems that have been festering and now surfaced. The board is trying to get control of these old problems and correct them. Good example is the states underfunded pension problem. This is at the forefront nowadays and is not a new problem. But since the economy tanked and is not turning around the problem is getting worse. And the politicans are pointing the fingers at the teachers. TEACHERS did not cause the problem. As for the term bad teachers can not be fired, my response is if Adminstration would of done thier job and monitor the teacher when they hired them, and got rid of them before they were tenured. Old saying "poor management produces poor labor" Remeber the old superintendant picked up his ball and left because our new board questioned him. Lets give the board and our new superintendant a little slack and fix old problem that they adopted
Robyn Vickers September 13, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Kevin did speak publicly on his reasons for leaving (in an article in the Ledger). I also had several conversations with him. I realize it still makes my remarks hearsay, but in none of our discussions, NONE, was not meeting AYP brought up as one his reasons for seeking the superintendency. Kevin wasn't one to see a problem and run. In five years, he took a struggling, disconnected school and built an incredible community. Parents, teachers and children were all proud to call Long Beach home. That's not the sort of person that deserts because of AYP scores. (And we can't just "opt out" of NCLB, unfortunately.) I realize I do jump in and defend teachers often on here. It's not that I think they're perfect. It's that I'm disgusted by the comments that are so disparaging of them and the profession. Are there bad teachers? Of course. Just like there are bad cops, doctors and plumbers. But I don't condemn the entire plumbing industry because one plumber didn't fix the leak under my sink properly. I wish people would do the same for educators.
JimmyJ September 13, 2012 at 01:51 PM
@Robyn..so that's why Kevin left. Am I to assume then that's why Brian and Tracy left? And yes you can opt out of NCLB there are districts that have.
JimmyJ September 13, 2012 at 01:55 PM
@Oswegosmarts...spot on. When the good times rolled I would guess that 7/8th of the population of 308 gave a rats you know what about the workings of the board and administration. But now that the bottom fell out and is apparently going to be out its suddenly a great concern and all the fault of this Board. If we ALL paid better attention over the last 20 years we may not be where we are. But who cares right
Robyn Vickers September 13, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I didn't comment about Brian and Tracy because I didn't know either of them well enough to have those personal conversations. 308 researched opting out of NCLB but we couldn't or we would have lost all of our Title I funding. With the state continuing to cut funding, there's no way we could survive without the federal Title I money. I would be thrilled to be out from under NCLB!
ayar September 13, 2012 at 03:16 PM
@oswegosmarts - exactly. One thing to add though, even if the teacher is tenured, they *can* get fired. The difference is that they have to create a paper trail to actually *prove* why the person needs to get fired, just like private industry has to follow HR guidelines.
Martin September 13, 2012 at 03:33 PM
@JimmyJ....not all of us have been here 20+ years. 308 doubled in size in the past 10 years. So some are new(newish) to 308 and are seeing the issues as they are now and have been over the past 2-3 years and are fedup with what the Board is and is not doing.
Tim September 13, 2012 at 04:05 PM
This district spends 5.8M on paying the EMPLOYEE contribution to the TRS pension program. Notice, this is in addition to the mandated EMPLOYER contribution they already make. http://illinoispolicy.org/uploads/files/teacherpensions10-13.pdf (pg 30). Simply requiring the teachers to pay into their own pension system, instead of having the taxpayers pay it for them, would eliminate the deficit, and create a $2M SURPLUS instantly. Not one teaching job(or otherwise) would need to be eliminated, and more money would be available to direct into the overcrowding problem that is only going to get worse. Tell me again, how much the teachers 'care for the children'. Their actions betray their words.
JimmyJ September 13, 2012 at 04:13 PM
@Martin...I've been here about 14 years. When I arrived Old Post was the newest school. Dr. Plank was Superintendent and his great contribution was to go with a reduction in transition fees, I'm sure there was plenty of crap before that but that's about as far back as I go. A board members son attended the same K-5 my kids. When presented with a list of discrepancies mostly physical: boilers not working, toilets not flushing, roof leaking, hand me down computers half of which didn't work, lack of sufficient hot water for hand washing, He said "oh I wasn't aware of those things" so either he was blind, ignorant or didn't care. It took 4 more YEARS to finally get something done. Maybe living a couple doors down from the then President had something to do with his blindness, I don't know. Granted past is the past...but how many people go to a board meeting from the public. Last time I went it was about 6. When meetings were held, three of them, to determine how many new schools to build back in 2006 there were three meetings and roughly 15 to 20 people showed up to each one.A total of 45 to 60. With a student population of roughly 17,000 there should have been more than that. So when the next referendum meeting is held the room will be packed, standing room only. Somehow I don't believe it.
Martin September 13, 2012 at 04:18 PM
@JimmyJ... I agree completely, if half the posters on the Patch showed up to BOE meetings, the BOe would get a little worried about whow as watching them. I have shown up to a meeting or two, but watch most via the web. Can't leave the little ones alone.
John Spasojevich September 13, 2012 at 04:21 PM
@Robyn...You are right about teachers, I think we do lump the poor ones in with the good ones. Whether it's a calling or a profession you need the skill to motivate and that's something I feel you can't learn by student teaching you gain it from experience, although some never do. I've experienced the "other side" when I ran an after school club for three years at BH. We anticipated 8 to 10 kids and we never seemed to have less than 20. It's definitely a challenge and those 90 minutes twice a month were plenty to make me glad I never wanted to be a teacher in the sense of a classroom teacher day in and day out. You also see how teachers hands are often tied by policy, often so that they can't teach as they would like to. It's a hard job. No doubt about that, but on the business side, D308 is public sector, there are no "profits" from a business, the money comes from us, so the question is when we say we need good teachers and good teachers say we need more money, how much of OUR paycheck are we willing to give to the school district? When do we say we don't have any more money?
John Spasojevich September 13, 2012 at 04:26 PM
This was mentioned in the CTU as well. The report on WGN said there is a 7% contribution and the teachers put in 2 and the district puts in 5 on top of their employer contribution. WHY...WHY do we do that? Is that part of the "oh we have to bend over and take it up the you know what to get "good" teachers"
Tim September 13, 2012 at 08:24 PM
John, Downers Grove does not do this, yet few would argue the schools in Downers don't attract good teachers. I agree with you, there is no reason for this practice to continue, when 35% of districts in IL DON'T do this, and most(almost all) of them have higher performance and test scores. This 'benefit' doesn't attract good teachers, it attracts greedy ones. And that is not what I want in my district.
ayar September 13, 2012 at 08:57 PM
fine, but make sure that Superintendents, Principals, and other Administration pay in THE EXACT SAME WAY. Same pain. Same gain.
Herm September 18, 2012 at 06:29 PM
How can we expect the upper admistration to pay their fair share when our national leaders are setting the example by tax breaks, health insurance paid for by the general population, high income and life long benefits when they leave office. They don't even have to stay in office very long get their pension. The line that is worn out is "For the children". Hog wash. After they get their inflated salary, what ever is left over is what the children get. Are we really getting a decent return for the investment that has been made to attract 'good candidates' ?
retired teacher September 18, 2012 at 07:49 PM
In 308 teachers pay their own TRS. It is taken out of their pay and sent to the state. Teachers pay 9.4% of their salary towards their pension and the district pays about .6% of their salary. The amount paid by the teachers is negotiated in their contracts. Also teachers and other staff pay 25% for their health insurance. Again this is a negotiated item. Adminstrators had free health insurance but new administrators are supposed to pay a portion of it.
Steven September 18, 2012 at 08:23 PM
It's amazing that these unions still exist in this day and age. There are some PHENOMENAL teachers in this district that deserve so much more. Unfortunately they get "averaged in" with other far less performing "educators". In business the stars rise and their comp follows....while the employees that are on social sites during the day and are the first ones to tear out of the parking lot as if the Flintstones whistle went off get paid what THEY deserve.....LESS. I feel bad for many of these awesome teachers. I wish we could put a 2012 calendar on the wall and say enough is enough with these unions. The positive trickle effect would be far reaching.
Tim September 18, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Not true, at all. Then why is the D308 documentation showing that the pay schedule is salary+TRS, as in PLUS TRS contribution? This has been shown to be the case in multiple sources, one of which is the actual labor agreement between the union and the district. Your confusion on this matter does not translate to facts in the outside world. It is not a strong point for you when the majority of teachers are not even aware of what their union is doing.
Oswego Resident September 18, 2012 at 08:48 PM
retired teacher - according to the link in Tim's post above, your statement appears to be false. Have you looked at the report contained therein? Please do, and pay attention to the chart at the end. It appears that CUSD 204, Indian Prairie ie: Waubonsee Valley, Nequa et al do not make any contribution on behalf of their teachers. they seem to be okay.
JimmyJ September 18, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Maybe the teachers have failed Everyday Math !! LOL It's easy enough, it shoudl be somewhere in the D308 budget when the district pays into the TRS.


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