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Education

District 89 officials seek community feedback amid projected deficits

3 public engagement meetings to be in June

Community Consolidated School District 89 will host three community engagement meetings in June to address its financial situation as the district sees a spike in enrollment and costs continue to increase.
Community Consolidated School District 89 will host three community engagement meetings in June to address its financial situation as the district sees a spike in enrollment and costs continue to increase.

Community Consolidated School District 89 will host three community engagement meetings in June to address its financial situation as the district sees a spike in enrollment and costs continue to increase.

In the face of these factors, the district anticipates deficit spending in the next several years. In fiscal year 2018, the deficit is expected to be about $1 million.

"With our increased enrollment and the expenses that we currently have, the district would have to borrow money," Superintendent Emily Tammaru said. "And we're projecting to run deficits in the next five years ranging anywhere from three-fourths of a million dollars to about $1.5 million. Most of our schools are funded by our local property tax. It's a very small portion that's really funded by state or federal dollars."

In January, Tammaru convened a Superintendent’s Finance Committee to examine the district’s financial status and priorities. The committee was composed of community members, parents and District 89 staff.

The committee looked at the nearly $3 million in cuts the district has made since 2009 and examined how rising enrollment and increasing costs – such as for transportation and insurance – have created deficit budgets for the district, officials said. The district’s enrollment has grown by more than 16 percent since 2012, and it is expected to grow an additional 13 percent over the next four years.

The Finance Committee has recommended two possible solutions: increase revenues or reduce programs and increase fees. Residents can read documents related to the committee’s work at ccsd89.org/financecommittee.

If the district were to reduce programs and increase fees, officials said the district would need to make about $1.2 million in cuts during the 2019-20 school year. These cuts could include reductions of gifted services, band and orchestra, social work services, library staff and full-day kindergarten. Cuts also could result in larger class sizes, and they could be more significant in future years, officials said.

"The Finance Committee really feels like we can't continue to run a deficit, and the board said, 'Why don't we go out and engage with the community?' " Tammaru said. "And so we've transitioned the Finance Committee into the Community Engagement Committee, and we have scheduled opportunities in June to really hear from the communities about what they value and want in their schools."

District 89 serves more than 2,000 preschool through middle school students from Glen Ellyn, Lombard and Wheaton. The district operates four elementary schools and one middle school.

The meetings will be from 7 to 9 p.m. June 5, 7 to 9 p.m. June 19 and 9 to 11 a.m. June 23 in the cafeteria of Glen Crest Middle School, 725 Sheehan Ave., Glen Ellyn.

The June 5 meeting will include a presentation about the district’s financial status and history. Residents will then break into small groups to discuss their priorities for the district, and there will be opportunities to ask questions.

At the June 19 and 23 meetings, residents will discuss options the district can pursue and provide feedback to committee members. Both meetings will cover similar topics based on the information shared at the June 5 meeting.

Residents are encouraged, but not required, to RSVP for the meetings at 630-545-3581 or info@ccsd89.org. The RSVPs will help the district plan for the layout of the room.

The meetings are the district's kickoff to the “Our 89” community engagement campaign. Residents can learn more about Our 89 at ccsd89.org/our89.

Following the community engagement meetings, the Board of Education is expected to make a decision on next steps at its Aug. 20 meeting.

Over the course of a five-year period, the district will need about an additional 10 teachers, Tammaru said.

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