During a regular board meeting on April 21, the District 97 school board unanimously approved the administration’s staffing proposal for the 2020-21 school year that touts cost savings of more than $700,000. Lincoln and Longfellow, where enrollment levels are rising, will see the most additional hires next year.
Most of the cost savings — $1,075,588 — is driven by teachers with larger salaries retiring. Roughly $350,000 in cost savings is due to the district’s elimination of four classroom teachers and a special education team support teacher. The reduction in teachers is due to “a very low class size for a couple of our Kindergarten classes,” according to an April 7 memo by Gina Herrmann, the district’s senior HR director.
“There are also two grade levels that have decreases in size; therefore, we plan to decrease the section number accordingly,” she said.
Another $137,000 in cost savings is due to a range of other staff reductions and state reimbursements that bring the total costs reductions to $1,562,588. The administration requested four teaching positions be budgeted at $280,000, in case the district has an increase in projected enrollment or an increase in students qualifying for special education.
The staffing report explained that the district plans to fund its new hires through the cost savings made possible by those staffing reductions. Lincoln and Longfellow, where enrollment levels are approaching 700 students, stand to get the bulk of the new personnel.
The district plants to add a new full-time enrichment specialist in its Gifted, Talented and Differentiation program. The new position will be split between Lincoln and Longfellow and will cost $70,000.
The district will add three special education co-teachers — one in first grade at Beye, and one each in kindergarten and first grade at Longfellow. The new co-teachers will cost an additional $210,000.
Lincoln and Longfellow would also each get an additional student support specialist who will “assist the building administrative team in organizing and fostering a positive, safe environment that is conducive to best meeting the needs of all students, staff and parents,” according to Herrmann’s memo. The new positions would cost a total of $170,000.
Lincoln and Longfellow will also each get a full-time school psychologist at a total cost of $85,000. Currently, each school has a part-time psychologist. They’ll each also receive an additional full-time receptionist at a total cost of $70,000.
The district also budgeted for additional social workers at Lincoln, Longfellow, Beye and Whittier. Lincoln and Longfellow, each of which has 1.5 full-time-equivalent in social worker staffing will get two full-time-equivalent staffing while the district will add an additional 0.5 full-time-equivalent social worker staffing at Whittier and Beye for a total cost of $170,000.
The district also plans to replace a student support specialist position at Whittier with an assistant principal position at a cost of $1,434, which is the difference between the salaries of the two positions.
Total new costs related to those additional staffing positions is $861,434, for a total cost savings of $701,154, according to Herrimann. If the district has to hire four new teachers to keep up with enrollment, then total cost savings are reduced to $421,154.