From Crystal Lake High School District 155 Board of Education candidate Donna Kurtz, who currently serves on the McHenry County Board:
COST CUTTING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DISTRICT 155
As usual Susan Handelsman provides an excellent blueprint for how District 200 can save money to stem the tide of the crushing tax burden that citizens in this district must bear. In a similar light, as candidate for District 155 school board I have observed many opportunities for improvement in managing costs.
Like Susan, it is stunning to me that five of the nine people running do not understand urgency to initiate cost-cutting as soon as possible and think cutting D155 taxes is just a campaign slogan.
My initial premise is that the first place for cost cutting is with the overhead of education, NOT educators and education facilities.
Educational excellence is vital because we owe it to our kids, and because allowing educational excellence to slip will make our homes and neighborhoods less desirable for people to live here.
Let me provide an overview of where I think there are significant cost-cutting opportunities that can and should lead to lower taxes.
First, let’s make sure that we highlight the fact that enrollment levels are down by hundreds and, based on a recent Northwest Herald article, by 2017/18 enrollment is projected to go down by approximately 1,000 students from the high of 2007.
Secondly, let’s also point out that since 2009, which was the highest level of enrollment at 7003 students, overall staff levels have increased from 668 to 737.
1. The most egregious staffing expansion since 2007 is with administrators. This is also where salaries are the highest. Currently the number of administrators is at 56. I believe that the number of administrators could be reduced to the 2007 levels of 28.
2. Sell the beautiful District 155 administrative office building on Virginia Road in Crystal Lake and move administrators into available spaces at one or more of the high schools.
3. Health insurance is frequently overlooked as an area for cost savings. As a County board member we have saved the taxpayers millions by updating health insurance benefits and by moving towards intergovernmental agreements with other municipal and county governments to build a bigger pool of insured that will lead to lower costs. As a school board member I would recommend that we do the same thing in order to consolidate our insurance pools of faculty and staff with other districts so we can lower healthcare costs for school districts throughout the region. This would clearly be a win-win for all.
4. Review administrative staff positions to determine appropriate levels and reduce staff positions through attrition over a 5 year period.
5. Other suggestions made by Susan Handelsman in her April 1st article should also be considered.
Finally, District 155 has been notorious in their lack of transparency and openness to the community and its employees.
I want to promote more community involvement through live and on-demand video and audio remote access of all meetings, publicizing and promoting more involvement by the community through social media and local news outlets.
This is a first step for the public to gain more awareness, understanding, and provide more input to improve District 155 education, and for more cost-effective delivery of education in District 155.
I am interested in your ideas. Please share your ideas regarding cost cutting suggestions and concerns.