Working on the Budget

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The Rockford School District spent Monday night trying to figure out how to eliminate a $30 million budget deficit.

This means cuts, deep cuts and in some way anyone with a tie to the Rockford Public School District will be affected. Over and over the Rockford Public School District's financial past was brought back. Historically in the district deficit spending is the trend. So what does the future hold? As of now there's still no straight financial plan.

"What we're presenting is a gloomy picture." A statement from acting Superintendent Dr. Ellen Bueschel sums it up best. Under her proposed plan to get the district back on track, there's $9 million in cuts and transfers of funds.

Some of the proposed cuts at the elementary level include 20.3 full time employees that would be cut. Rock River school would close and Haskell would no longer be a year round school. At the Middle School level, 40.1 full time positions would be cut and there would only be six periods in the day. At the high school level, 14.6 staff cut and eliminate the zero hour.

Then there was more, board member Jay Nellis made a motion to direct the district’s legal council to re-open contract negotiations will all unions. But some board members argued that there are already open conversations with the various unions. Also four contracts are up the end of June. But early retirement and open bargaining could save another $3 million.

The board voted against the legal department asking all unions to re-negotiate. Whatever the board decides on could also put the district back under state control. Also again being talked about is a zero based budget. This would mean that the district would start from scratch, look at what is mandated and then add what they feel the district should provide.

Board members did request more information about possible extra curricular cuts and exactly what grants the district is set to receive.

As for the Superintendent search, the board met in a closed-door session with the search firm Ray and Associates. 23 News spoke to Ray and Associates before the meeting, but would not give out the number of potential candidates until the board had the list.