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District 202 approves cutting equivalent of 64 full-time positions

Plainfield schools will start out the school year in August with fewer employees.

Faced with a projected deficit of $3.2 million in the 2012-13 school year, Plainfield School District 202 board members on Feb. 27 approved a plan that would eliminate the equivalent of 64 full time positions. The move is expected to save the district $3.9 million.

“It disgusts me to vote yes, but I fell like I have no other choice,” school board member Rod Westfall said after criticizing state lawmakers for the instability of education funding.

Among the cuts are 27.4 full time equivalent certified positions including:

* three middle school and one high school deans
* six middle school and one high school instructional tech specialists
* one middle school differentiation specialist
* 2.8 elementary and high school reading specialist positions
* one vocational education teaching position
* four high school physical education and health positions.

The plan also calls for eliminating 35.3 support staff positions that include six middle school learning lab teaching assistants, nine custodians, three high school attendance secretaries, 6.3 education job coaches, one high school bookkeeper, four high school copy clerks, four middle school positions that dealt with in-school suspensions and two high school media teaching assistant positions.

District officials said they also will be able to save money by restructuring the student services department and by cutting building budgets by 5 percent at the elementary level, 10 percent at the middle school level and 15 percent at the high school level.

Though school board members were able to stave off cuts this current school year through a federal grant and salary freezes, they were warned last year that they would likely have to make cuts for the 2012-13 school year. The cuts approved Feb. 27 were similar to a plan proposed last year before board members opted to use a federal grant to save jobs.

Since March of 2009, school board members have made cuts totaling about $43 million.

School board members took aim at state leaders on Feb. 27, once again noting the instability of state funding for education and the likelihood of additional cuts in state funding.

“It’s mind boggling to me that the state doesn’t own up to its (fiscal) responsibilities, Westfall said.

School board members, however, were the target of some criticism from union leaders who questioned how the district could cut positions when they recently approved creating four new positions to help implement a new computer program for the district.

Union leaders argued the newly created positions would have little impact on the day to day workings of a classroom and that the cuts would have a greater impact on students. School officials, however, said the positions were necessary to carry out the new program that would benefit the entire district.

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