Personnel, programs cut at Mountain View

BY PAT FARNELLI

Mountain View School Board responded to the news of proposed deep cuts in state education funding with a comprehensive plan Monday night to cut administration, staff, and faculty positions as well as programs.

“Last year was difficult,” Superintendent Andrew Chichura said of having to cut positions and programs.

But with continuing declining enrollment and known cutbacks in federal funds and unanticipated deep cuts proposed from the state for 2011-12, “It places the district in a very difficult situation of trying to maintain the integrity of the overall instructional program.”

Without mentioning names, on the table will be the elimination of eleven professonal staff along with one of the district’s five administrators, and a clerical staff person in central administration.

For union support personnel would be cut two custodial positions, and one full-time clerical position would be cut to two half time positions.

There would also be a reduction of two paraprofessionals.

Chichura said that the plan will be subject to review and revision by the board, but it is what he would recommend.

Earlier in the agenda, Chichura addressed program and other cuts to be made to reduce spending in the district, including possibly making all sports “pay to play” programs.

No category of district employee will be unaffected by the cuts, Chichura said. His own salary will be frozen at the 2009-10 school year level. The top tier of administration positions would be frozen at 2010-2011 levels.

One of the five positions to be eliminated would come from the following posts: director of curriculum and instruction, director of special education, the  high school principal, the high school assistant principal, and the elementary school principal.

Support and professional staff positions would be reduced by seniority. Employees in other areas will be determined “by best fit,” he said.

The professional staff, or faculty, will be reviewed by a more complex process. Many recommendations are being made at this point, Chichura said.

The teacher’s union is due for reorganization of contracts in June 2012.

The kindergarten was addressed first, due to the state cuts to Basic Education Funding and the Accountability Block Grant, the latter of which is used to fund full -day kindergarten, and was unexpectedly cut 100 percent under the governor’s proposal. This grant funds 38 percent of Mountain View’s kindergarten program.

“As of today, there are 42 students for next year’s kindergarten,” Chichura said.

There has been an overall decline in enrollment in the district. However, some parents will wait until the end of the school year, or even into the summer, before signing up their children.

Chichura recommended reducing the current four sections of kindergarten to three. One kindergarten teacher, Rose Borgna, submitted a letter of intent to retire during the 2011-12 school year before or at the 170th day.

“Reducing the kindergarten day from full day to half is an open option, but I am not recommending it, at this time,” Chichura said.

Elementary grades will be reduced by one or two classrooms. Health classes for elementary will be reassigned to physical education teachers. Title One faculty will be reduced to one and a half full time positions.

One social studies position will be eliminated. Art teachers will be reduced from three to two. Library staff will be reduced to one and a half full time equivalent.

Special education faculty will be reduced to one or two positions. “We do have a retirement that we are not going to replace,” he said.

Class programs with 10 or less students will be eliminated. Grade seven classes will be reduced from 10 sections to eight.. Grade 5 will be reduced from five sections to four.

A developmental reading position will be dropped with a retirement, and that instruction will be picked up by English and Title 1 faculty.

Spanish and French will be shortened to a 2-year sequence. A computer coach will be eliminated, and will return to an English teaching position the teacher formerly held. Latin will still be offered, and Chichura would like to see at least Latin 1 required for all academic track students.

In other business, the board voted to approve the NEIU 19 Special Education Contract for 2011-12, but unanimously voted no to the NEIU 19 general operating budget.

The board also approved a resolution opposing the school voucher bill, Senate Bill 1, which would enable parents to purchase vouchers for private education for their children, with two no votes from Dava Rinehart-Cowan and Jay Wescott. The Mountain View district currently has 54 students attending cyber charter schools.

A motion to approve the purchase of gym floor mats in the amount of $1,900 was voted down unanimously.

The board accepted the proposal for audit services by Brian T. Kelly, CPA for the years ending in June 30, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

The board approved advertising retroactively for a long-term substitute foreign language teacher for French and Spanish. One teacher was offered the position, accepted, then withdrew his or her acceptance, so the board will choose a viable candidate from the substitute list.