Saturday, February 3, 2018

Breaking News: Draft Budget CUT list now Available for Viewing!

As everyone knows, D181 is facing a multimillion dollar deficit over the next 5 years.  The administration was tasked with drafting a "cut list" for discussion by the Board of Education, with the goal of balancing the $1.35+ million deficit projected for the 2018-2019 school year. In checking BoardDocs today to see if the SIX DAY posting had been published announcing a new superintendent's compensation package, we found a new notice for a meeting of the D181 Finance Committee.  The meeting is scheduled for February 6 at 5 pm at the Administration Center.  Agenda item 3B is titled "Budget Deficit Reduction Discussion."  The finance committee will be the first group to "vet" this list before it is presented to the BOE.

There are three documents under this agenda item tab, and we encourage our readers to review them (click to open):

2018-2019 Budget Deficit Reduction Executive Summary

2/6/2018 Powerpoint for Finance Committee called Budget Deficit Reduction

DRAFT - D181 Budget Reductions/Revenue Considerations

We have not yet had an opportunity to review these documents in great detail, other than to see if the Adminstration has come up with a big enough cut list to balance the budget. According to these documents, D181 faces a 2018-2019 projected deficit in the amount of $1,355,994.  The goal was to identify at least $1.5 million in cuts in order to balance the budget and create a surplus that can carry over into future years.  The DRAFT - D181 Budget Reductions/Revenue Considerations identifies over $1.6 million in proposed cuts for 2018-2019 and an addional list of possible future cuts totalling over $2.1 million.

But will these cuts impact the classroom?  Are they fair and responsible suggestions?  Are they self-serving in any way for the administration? We will be closely reviewing the documents over the next day or so and will post our opinion on the proposed cuts.  In the meantime, we encourage our readers to do the same!

Stay Tuned and SOUND OFF!


Anonymous said...

Hi Parents, the link to "DRAFT - D181 Budget Reductions/Revenue Considerations" is broken. I looked on BoardDocs, and found it. It's$file/2018_02_02_DRAFT%20D181%20Budget%20Reductions%20%26%20Revenue.pdf

I glossed over it, and found some interesting items. Unsurprisingly, there aren't any cuts for administrators; if anyone loses their job, it's teachers & support staff.

"Personnel: Change in hiring practices that improves balance of new graduates and veteran teachers; ~$15,000 per year (compounded each year); estimated to be a minimum of seven positions; Estimated at 6 six positions." at a cost savings of $90,000. Does that mean more young teachers who lack experience?

Reduce Differentiation Specialist from 1.5 to 1.0 in 2 schools, saving $70,000. So less differentiation for our kids.

Getting rid of a SELAS consultant. While only a $9,500 savings, why did we have one in the first place?

Eliminate 5th Grade Spanish, saving $158,747

Start orchestra in 5th grade instead of 4th grade.

Define 1.0 FTE for elementary Art teachers as an amount of contact time with students that is equitable to that of a classroom teacher. It'll save $70,000

Middle School Content Area Team Leaders, saving $140,000

Making the full time psychologist at HMS only 0.5 FTE. $35,000 Less intervention/instruction for general education students

Reduce Physical Education as allowed by new law (from 5 days to 3 days per 5 day week) This would result in the reduction of the District's P.E. teachers by ~ 6.0 FTE. Saves $450,000

No Middle School Academic strategies, Reading Lab & Math Lab. $25,000 each

No more MRC (library) aide. 9 jobs lost, saving $160,000

Allow class sizes up to 26 ($210,000-$280,000)

Minimum enrollment for Algebra II/Trig, Precalculus, Spanish 2, and French 2. Need at least 10 kids per class, or they'll be bused to District 86

The Parents said...

Thank you 4:26. We have fixed the link. Thank you for your quick summary of the proposed cuts. We will be digging into them as well in the next few days.

Frustrated said...

if there's no Academic Strategies, Reading Lab or Writing Lab, how will Special Ed students individual needs be met?

Anonymous said...

Good question, Frustrated. Probably some small group work, and some differentiation, but not nearly as much as there is now. The meeting's on Tuesday at 5:00. I'd recommend as many people going, and speaking up. Show that we not not only matter, but give a damn.

I'm pissed that there aren't any cuts to administration. Couldn't they get rid of the director of communications position? Maybe consolidate, if not totally eliminate, the Pupil Services Administrators? Make the Assistant Superintendent of SpEd only a director level position under the Curriculum director? Consolidate the business office?

Anonymous said...

These cuts are significant and parents need to pay attention. I recognize that we are in a major cost cutting/savings predicament as the need to to "right" The deficit, allocate funds to ensure HMS is built and then offer quality education in that building are critical.

My major concern is that there is little to no admin cutting cost solutions. I do believe that our District office could restructure to offer more Director level salaries and less Asst Superintendent salaries. The elimination of Director of Communications position with Bridget's departure is one cost effective and cost reducing loss. But what about restructuring that office as someone mentioned above?

Additionally, I think it is interesting in our current state and national climate of education that in a time when emphasis is on growth mindset for kids to be given ample opportunities to be challenged and stretched, but also nurtured and given time to play and exercises and have "brain breaks" that our district suggests cutting PE and Differentiation in our building schools. What about first addressing the needs of our students' learning and challenges? That should be the last to be cut frankly.

How are other Districts offering these resources, activities, and managing their budgets? Increasing class size to 26 in Oak Brook? Somehow they manage to accelerate, advance and differentiate and notify families of placement right away re testing students yearly. Somehow they manage to hire quality teachers, maintain standards, and teach to CCSS. The grass may not always be greener but they are doing it in other school districts. What's going on in D 181?

This District is always in DANGER and DAMAGE CONTROL MODE. This is not the way to operate a school district. I recognize we are cleaning house to start fresh but if the community paid more attention to not only the building of a new middle school but also the education being offered, I think more people would attend the meeting. Sadly, I suspect people will not attend and uproar will only happen when Orchestra, PE, and other class opportunities for students are eliminated.

We need to spread the word. Those that read this blog need to notify other families in their community. Talk to their neighbors. This is important decision making happening and our elected officials have major jobs to do in the next several weeks.

Anonymous said...

While I am not well-versed in the needed cuts, I must agree with others with regard to the need to limit cuts that will affect students. Teachers, support staff and building administration should be last touched by the cuts. I suggest like another did that the district look to first cut the Director of Communications position (due to attrition) and at least reduce the number of Pupil Service Administrators (some are likely needed to support special education teachers and students). Consider restructuring district office and the elimination of other positions to save dollars:

• Eliminate Director of Communications - $110,000 (about) (HR does this role in other small districts... could and should combine role)
• Eliminate 2 Pupil Service Administrators - $190,000 (about)
• Reduce Titles for Asst. Sup. of HR and Asst. Sup. of Learning (Pupil Services) to director - $20,000
• Eliminate the Chief Academic Officer position (Temporary position and should not be needed once the new Asst. Sup is hired) - $75,000
• Eliminate 4 TOSA technology positions (there are 5 total, but 1 is assigned to curriculum and may still be needed for next year) - $400,000 (about – these teachers are experienced, so salaries are likely higher than $70,000)
• Eliminate Content Team Leaders at MS - $140,000
• Eliminate 1 Art Teacher (so the art teachers are more efficiently utilized.... why hasn't this already been done????) - $70,000
• Transportation costs - $300,000 (about)
• Eliminate the additional Reading Specialist position that HMS did not use this year - $70,000

This adds up to about $1,375,000 with little thought. All of the positions listed are far removed from students and some are even from the district list created (even the teacher TOSA positions and MS Content Team Leaders won't affect students directly). Kids come out the winner in this scenario. However, it gives me pause to think that the district is leaving these conversations in the hands of leaders who may or may not be in district next year. Hopefully the Board will come through for kids and recognize the need to carefully review the suggestions made by those administrators who are not invested long-term in D181.

Additionally, a lot more consideration and scrutiny should be placed on the Department of Learning's decision making once again. Listen to the recording... at least one teacher who spoke up at the meeting stated that the Department of Learning is making decisions in direct opposition from teacher committee recommendations. How can the district allow this? D181 teachers should be valued and respected. They have and will continue to support our kids. Are the decisions being made helping or hurting? It seems unclear at this point. If nothing else, this is a good reason to hire on a permanent assistant superintendent and eliminate the part-time substitute Chief Academic Officer position suggested for next year. If the district hires well, this position is not needed. The work that was planned for this year was not delivered on anyways, so no need to continue with this position. Lots of concern coming out of this department again... D181 is right back to where it was two years ago!

Let's hope the Board found a superintendent candidate that has experience with a district like D181. Let's hope the person has experience at the elementary level and can help us to find success in this challenging situation. It may be more beneficial to have him or her lead the district through the cuts rather than an administration who is part-time and/or leaving. At the very least, the new leader should review the suggestions and weigh in so that the district has someone who is invested in the future of D181 making recommendations.

Comments from someone really hoping that the district will be better off next year. This is a good community with kids and staff who deserve better administrative leadership. Board of Education- Thank you for your service and please remember that the kids in D181 are depending on you!

Frustrated said...

Definitely cut administrators, we should invest in people who have facetime with students. How many additional administrators were hired by Dr. White? Then move admin back to a building owned by d181 instead of paying rent? I remember when admin was small enough they fit in the building at KLM, which I believe the village provided at little or no cost. Admin outgrew that space and moved to Westmont, where we paid for a admin only space. Then admin moved back to Elm to save money. Now they're over in Clarendon Hills, what does that space cost?

How did D181 approve doubling the transportation cost to change start times? Does it make sense to move Middle school later - so parents who work need childcare for younger siblings who get home before middle schoolers. Does later start for middle school really help? We get up earlier to get stuff done.

Anonymous said...

In reference to 3:26, as a teacher in the district, I have not seen the TOSA assigned to curriculum in my building once this year. I honestly don't even know what that job entails.

Anonymous said...

9:00, same. I've seen the curriculum TOSA once this year, but only because I ran into her at admin when I had a meeting. Rumor has it that since the interim assistant superintendent for curriculum is allowed to work only 100 days a year, the TOSA picks up some of the slack. This is only a rumor, so I can't confirm/

And 3:26: I thought the district only 4 TOSAs total: 1 curriculum & 3 tech TOSAs.

Anonymous said...

Teacher's aide and RTi (aide) pay needs to be drastically cut from almost $17/hour to $13. Western Springs pays their aides far less. So does everyone else. Oak Brook might pay almost as much as we do, but they have the benefit of collecting all our sales tax dollars from the money D181 parents spend at Oak Brook Mall. Plus they collect a lot of taxes from all of the corporations there. It makes no sense that Oak Brook parents pay less taxes yet still get to go to Hinsdale Central High School.

Parents give aides and teachers generous gift so we do not need to overpay them. Good aides want to work here because they know this. They don't have to have to be bilingual or have special ed experience to work here. The safe, Mayberry feel is an added plus. Aides never have to deal with us difficult Hinsdale parents anyway, teachers do, so cut their pay. If anything, open up these positions to local retirees and Hinsdale Central Students who have good attitudes and are willing to pay the $25 fee to be fingerprinted.

Considering none of the teachers in my kids' schools can explain what Rti is or what the difference between the tiers are, it is ridiculous to pay RTi aides more. Teachers and principals have no standardized or district wide information for parents about Rti or what subjects it is available in, yet the district pretends that they are using it to pretend that they are meeting state requirements to have evidence based supports available for kids who are not failing out of elementary school, and thus, do not qualify for special ed.

Anonymous said...

9:37: I was thinking capping aide (and all support staff for that matter) pay at $10/hr, teacher pay at maybe $40-45,000/yr, and superintendent maybe at $75,000/yr. No matter how much education they get, no matter how much experience, that's the most they should make. Also, mandate that all district staff live in their school's attendance area. Maybe then they'd realize they can't just expect a blank check.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone attend last night's Finance Committee meeting? Interestingly, the podcast of the meeting isn't posted. Shouldn't it have been by now?

Anonymous said...

I've seen things posted shortly after, and in other cases, it has taken a few days.

Re: places to cut the budget--Why not scale back more on the iPad program? Do third graders really need iPads? (I'd be happy with no devices until middle school, quite frankly.)

The Parents said...

The podcast is now available. We plan to listen and then comment.

Anonymous said...

I haven't listened to the podcast yet but would like to add to earlier comments. I couldn't agree more about teachers and aide salaries. They are ridiculously high especially when you look at what we get.

According to the IL School Report Card, our teachers average $90,465 per year. Western Springs teachers average $62,664 per year and Butler teachers average $74,328 per year.

If you compare academic success, D181 children scored the worst of the 3 districts: only 72% of Hinsdale students met/exceeded. 78% of Butler met/exceeded and 76% of Western Springs.

There's been talk her of children with disabilities. If we look at that number, only 21% of D181 students with disabilities met/exceeded. 26% of Western Springs students with disabilities met/exceeded. A whopping 42% of students with disabilities at Butler SD met/exceeded.

Could our Special Education Dept learn something from the Butler folks? Maybe the Butler educators provide their students with disabilities what these students really need.

My favorite statistic of all concerns the percent of days absent. D181 teachers fail miserably when compared to Butler and Western Springs. 97% of Western Springs teachers are absent 10 days or less. 90% of Butler teachers are absent 10 days or fewer.

D181 teachers must get some great benefits since only 65% are absent 10 days or fewer. That means 35% of our teachers are absent 11 days or more.

When you think about the fact that D181 has 296 teachers, that is a lot of sick days. Remember, we have to pay subs to fill in for these teachers. How much are the sick days and subs costing D181 taxpayers?

Western Springs only has 117 teachers and Butler has even less. It has 48 teachers.

Anonymous said...

I'm so disappointed reading these comments. How can someone believe that educated people who dedicate their career to helping our children succeed should earn $40,000-45,000 a year? That is nearly at the poverty level for a family of four...meanwhile the median income in our town is over $300k. Wow...

Also, what's being overlooked is the drastic size difference between D181, Western Springs & Butler. In fact, Oakbrook's salary schedule is higher than D181s, and it's a much smaller district (only 1 elementary and middle school). Western Springs is another small district in a small town where teacher retention rate is significantly lower than D181 (probably because of their low salary).

D181 teachers remain loyal to our district and dedicated to meet the needs of our students, despite CONSTANT administration turnover. I understand everyone wanting to chime their opinion on D181's budget reduction but let's not turn on the teachers who have continued to help our kids thrive. Cuts can be made in a variety of places that will be least disrupting to our students. Our focus should be in finding administrators who want to be apart our this district and provide consistency in curriculum initiatives.

Anonymous said...

That's the problem. Our teachers are not helping a lot of children. The numbers are there. Look at how well our children are doing compared to children in other high performing districts.

Our teachers are taking a lot of days off school. Teachers in most higher performing districts do not take off as many days as District 181 teachers. These teachers have off summers, winter break, spring break and Thanksgiving break. They get off holidays. Most working people do not get even 1/3 that many days off work let alone that many "sick" days.

Checkout the parking lots at our grade schools at 3:30 or 3:45. They are almost empty.

If you think Western Springs and Oak Brook are aberrations, look at Wilmette, Kenilworth etc.

One last thing, the percent of teachers who miss more than 10 days of work, is just that - it is a percentage. Why does it matter that Western Springs and Oak Brook are smaller districts? A higher percentage of our teachers miss more days of school than teachers in other higher performing districts.

Anonymous said...

The Illinois School Report Card does not list the reason behind the absences. Over the past few years, teachers have been pulled from their classrooms to write curriculum, write tests, plan Institute Days, plan other professional development, the CIACC Committee work, etc. Teachers have voiced their concerns over being taken out of the classroom so much, and it does seem a bit less this year. That is quite probably the reason behind those absences compared to other districts.

Anonymous said...

Wrong - absent means absent. Teachers are not absent from school if they are in meetings, writing curriculum and tests, or in professional development.

The statute mandating the reporting of this information states: "the percentage of teachers with less than 10 absences in a school year FOR REASONS OTHER THAN professional development, leaves taken pursuant to the federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, long-term disability, or parental leaves".

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with the above post from Feb. 9, 6:26 p.m.
No certified teacher in D181 with a BA and credentials only earns $40-45,000. Add in their months of vacation time, no weekend hours, free parking, and every holiday off, their jobs are even more valuable. Bus drivers, school crossing guards, PTO moms and cafeteria ladies dedicate their lives and careers to kids too, but they aren’t make $40,000/yr. to work 9 months out of the year. We are having a huge financial crisis in D181 and we all need to compromise in order to solve it.
Our kids are NOT thriving. That’s the whole point. Some people may insist that their kids or students are superstars, , but numbers don’t lie. Child stress and anxiety levels are higher than ever yet their test scores are low. And when parents try to get them into sports or after school chorus or musicals, these same kids are cut. Unless you child has severe handicaps, they will be cut from middle school sports, chorus, or science teams. How can staff actions like this help an 11 - 13 year old gain confidence and thrive?

Boards keep giving administrators chances, when our own children don't get them. Paid administrators and staff are kept longer than they should have been, but our kids are cut from teams and show choirs the first months of school. The district buy and lease the best computers, cell phone and iPads, but don't spend time learning how to teach using the most successful, current learning theory. Instead, as another poster noted, staff and special ed people are allowed to make up their own child learning theories and materials. Parents don't want workbooks and materials created by D181 teachers - we want professionally created, vetted materials for our kids. We want our teachers to have real teachers guides and our students to have books and workbooks. We do not mind paying for those expenses. However, we DO mind paying teaching staff for books that they never crack open and have no idea how to interpret. Parents have had enough of staff pretend ing they have proper training and experience, when they do not. For example, the staff receipts just submitted to the board are full of material expenses for educational books, yet NO correlating supervision or monitoring of HOW staff are actually implementing or comprehending these materials! Just because the teacher has a book on her shelf does not mean that she knows the information inside that book. Specifically, look at the receipts HMS just submitted to the Board for books telling them how to help kids with ADHD (see attachments for tonight's meeting ). Yet when parents and experts ask those same staff for help, these staff and their supervisors cannot think of ANYTHING to do to help those same kids. Also, 2 teachers went to a Reading Recovery conference in Chicago, but is impossible for 2 people to successfully relay 2 full days worth of workshops and lectures to all of the classroom teachers and reading specialists in the entire district. Especially when none of the elementary school reading specialists participate in any Reading Recovery® or any formal, ongoing Founts & Pinnel training. One, 15 minute a year meeting let by an untrained staff member is not good enough. Make all teachers and reading specialists pass a test to show competency on the information inside their new books before the Board and parents pay them back. Or, make staff enroll in a continuing education program that is supervised by a professor qualified to do so. Our kids have to show mastery in tests. Teachers can too.

Anonymous said...


Many changes have been made in the last 8 years, but very few have worked. Mrs. Gallt made some nice changes to the curriculum last year, but staff and administrator resistance to properly implement those changes halted her progress. That is why she left. Children have moved on to high school and administrators have changed, but there is one constant: bad administrator after bad administrator making poor leadership and curriculum decisions. These people have chipped away at the quality of our district so much, that the good in our district has a huge shadow cast over it. There is absolutely no reason to continue paying poor employees when they make no effort to improve or change their work product. These type of administrators and staff ruin schools and waste money. Giving them more chances makes no sense at all.

Other posters are worried that cuts made to current academic strategy, reading and math labs will further harm our kids. Have any of these labs proven to be successful? From what I recall Math scores were up, but nothing else was. Is the district following the basic guidelines and professional standards followed by Oak Brook, Kenilworth and Western Springs? In not, make cuts, but immediately implement something that WORKS. Start this summer because the changes are long overdue. Only the Board has the power to force the administrator to follow professional standards and policy guidelines that the community believes in. But parents and teachers have to stand up for the truth, not blindly support the excuses that administrators tell them. If administrators, parents, and teachers do not competently, truthfully and clearly communicate problems to the Board immediately, the same problems will fester and multiply. Thus far, only employees who have kept their mouths shut and covered up the obvious flaws in our district have flourished. It is time to start rewarding staff who DO get positive results and ARE making quantifiable changes for all kids - not just the students who are easiest to teach.

Anonymous said...

4:49: here's the rub: is the district accurately reporting absences? Are they breaking down every kind of absence (sick days, maternity leave, committee meetings, etc.), or are they lumping it all together? If the latter, that can skew the results. I can't confirm nor deny either way, so this is all just hypothetical.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know why our teachers are not using the very expensive science textbooks that we the taxpayers purchased last years?. Our kids have suffered without science textbooks for the last ten years, and the new textbooks were very expensive. I would also like to know why our teachers are not teaching the new common core curriculum? Isn't it a state mandate? Hasn't all of our feeder districts already implemented it years ago? I'm frustrated with all the teacher complaining and total teacher inaction. Meanwhile our children continue to suffer with a mediocre curriculum and teacher created materials.

Anonymous said...

Some of you posting have no idea what teachers do. Have you ever truly talked to a teacher about their job? Realistically, they don't have weekends off nor nights for that matter. When do you think they grade papers and do their planning? It is isn't during the day. It is at night and on weekends. Many of my friends grade papers at their kids sporting events. Also, they get vacation, but do you ever hear of teachers actually taking it? These days, they don't really get a summer either. Many of them teach summer school, go to school themselves to be better teachers, or take professional development classes. I'm not even a teacher myself, but I have family members and friends who are and understand what they truly do.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 12:21, 11:45 and 10:12 because I am a teacher. You all have valid points because some teachers are excellent but others need to change their methods. They need help and guidance, but are usually too stubborn or afraid to ask for it. I don't think grading student work at your own child's game is professional behavior though. If you leave work at 3:30 to make your kids's games, I would hope that a teacher would be wise enough to do careful work at home, not on a bleacher. Correcting and noting the kinds of errors kids make is a very important way for teachers to figure out what topics and lessons they need to re-teach to kids. When teachers complain that their students all bombed homework or a test, that is an important clue that they need to re-teach the lesson in a different way. Our job is to teach all of them until they learn. This can be very hard with some kids, but that is why well trained special education teachers are so important. Classroom teachers rely on this department to help us so we can focus on the rest of our class.

Just like every other parents alive, work conflicts with our personal lives. But many people like business owners, CEOs, lawyers and accountants all have to work late hours or on the weekends, however, I could never imagine them billing a client to do their work in public at a game. Many business owners don't automatically take Christmas and Thanksgiving off. I appreciate the sympathy of 12:21 towards teachers, but let's stop making excuses for the ones who give the rest of us a bad name. I love my job, but am tired of picking up the slack for teachers who, had they taken a few extra minutes in their day to talk to parents to understand where they were coming from, could have easily helped a child and solved a problem. Yes, some parents are rude and pushy, but so are some of my colleagues and administrators. Some administrators are too nice and don't punish the ones who need it. It takes more teacher and administrators more effort to cover up and deny poor behavior than it does to just to the right way in the first place.