Supt: Oak Lawn SD 229 might be ‘on pathway to bankruptcy’
BY BOB RAKOW Correspondent July 21, 2012 12:36AM
Updated: August 24, 2012 6:08AM
Students at Oak Lawn Community High School would be limited to enrolling in six classes rather than seven beginning in the 2013-14 school year under a plan designed to reduce expenses.
“We’re on a pathway to bankruptcy if we don’t make some changes over the long haul,” District 229 Supt. Mike Riordan said Friday. “We’re looking to keep the district on sound financial footing.”
The district would save $500,000 annually if the plan is approved, but students would have fewer opportunities to take elective classes in areas such as fine arts, foreign language and technology.
The proposal would allow the district to eliminate at least 60 class sections and between seven and nine teaching positions, Riordan said.
Electives allow students to explore their interests, which often leads to college and career choices, Riordan said.
Students enrolled in the school’s honors or regular programs now have the opportunity to enroll in 23 electives over four years. That number would drop to 15 if the proposal is approved.
Students have had the opportunity to enroll in seven courses each semester since the 2004-05 school year. About 95 percent of freshmen and sophomores and 75 percent of juniors and seniors are enrolled in seven courses.
“It’s unfortunate if we would have to do that,” said Riordan, who outlined the proposal Thursday night at a forum attended by about 25 parents and employees.
Another forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at the high school, 9400 Southwest Highway.
Several surrounding school districts limit students to six classes per semester, including Reavis Township District 220, Bremen Community District 228, Consolidated District 230 and Thornton Fractional Township District 215.
The district has made significant budget cuts over the past few years but still has a $500,000 budget deficit in its $29.6 million budget. Additionally, the district’s $9 million in cash reserves is well below the amount required by the state, Riordan said.
Over the past two years, the district has reduced teachers’ raises, frozen administrators’ pay and cut six teaching positions and three full-time substitutes. Two administrative spots, a maintenance job and one instructional assistant position were eliminated along with 19 extracurricular coach/sponsor positions.
The district also eliminated Spartan Connect, a social-emotional learning program; and cosmetology classes. It scaled back the after-school credit recovery program, and implemented fees for extracurricular programs and exam prep classes.
Despite the cuts, expenditures are expected to outpace revenues by about $1 million by the 2013-14 school year, Riordan said.
“I don’t see the revenue projections getting any better,” he said.