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Budget Update: Crucial Time for Woodridge Local Schools

From pay-to-participate fees and layoffs to levy proposals and spending freezes, Woodridge Local School officials and the Board of Education have much to consider in the months ahead.

Decisions, decisions.

Following the failure of , the will soon make some rulings on how to balance the district's beleagured $20 million annual budget.

The first decision will come at its next regular meeting on April 17 when the board will have to decide whether or not to institute a pay-to-participate policy. 

As it stands, it costs the district $410,000 per year to fund the district's athletic, extracurricular, music and club programs, and its the aim of school officials to "defray" the six-figure price tag, said Woodridge Schools Superintendent Walter Davis.

To figure out the best pay system, a pay-to-participate committee, chaired by treasurer Deanna Levenger, was formed last month and it has offered its recommendations for the board to consider.

High school athletics and clubs

  • Between $125-$150 per sport, per student
  • $25 per club, per student
  • Annual earnings projection: $46,000-$54,000

Middle school athletics and clubs

  • Between $75-$100 per sport, per student
  • $25 per club, per student
  • Annual earnings projection: $13,000-$17,000

District music activities

  • Between $75-$100 per activity, per student
  • Annual earnings projection: $8,000-$10,000

Regarding other proposals to reduce expenditures, Davis has recommended that no cuts be made to the district's $1.5 million bussing and transportation budget.

However, several post-Issue 10 cuts are already in motion. Two special education teachers, one middle school math teacher and a library media specialist have been laid off, which will save the district $237,000.

School officials are also finalizing the elimination of 23 classified jobs, many of which are part-time, to save $286,000.

School officials and administrators have also agreed to freeze their step increases, take a zero percent base salary raise and increase their healthcare contributions from seven to 10 percent through 2016, saving the district roughly $94,000, said Levenger.

There will also be $70,000 in major spending freezes.

These cuts will keep the district in the black by $268,000 through the 2013-14 school year; yet, by the end of 2015, expenditures will balloon and the school system will be $8.6 million in the red unless a levy is passed, according to an updated five-year budget forecast.

The district will have two more chances, in August and November, to pass an issue. Levenger said the next proposed levy will be comparable to Issue 10, a five-year, 6.83-mill emergency levy that would generate $3 million per year and cost homeowners $209 for every $100,000 in valuation.

If voters give it the green light, the district will be $2.1 million in the black at the end of the 2015-16 school year.

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