Dear Shorewood Schools Community Members,
This week, during Spring Break, District staff members have been focused on both the planning steps for the 2015-16 budget and the development of a leadership transition plan for the District moving forward. This communication is intended to be the first of a series of communications that will keep you informed about some of the work we need to accomplish this spring.
2015-16 Budget Planning Update
The Governor's proposed biennial budget cuts $150 in revenue per student for the 2015-16 school year. This will reduce our revenue by $388,000. Three years ago, during the implementation of Act 10, we cut $2.48 million from our General Fund budget. However, with enrollment growth and with some small deficit spending, we maintained our fund balance within board policy, and we have been able to keep--even grow--programs we love, while also beginning high value initiatives.
As we work to develop a balanced budget for the 2015-16 school year, some difficult decisions will need to be made. We feel that we can develop a balanced budget that maintains our great programs but leaves little room to support progressive initiatives as well. Thus, we are proposing reductions in funding for all new initiatives to help balance our projected budget. This means that funds we currently use to support Expeditionary Learning, Mindfulness, and Restorative Practices are being recommended for reductions. This protects our great academic, art and music programs without the need for any reductions in those areas. We are also looking at possible ways to save in our health insurance costs and at other smaller reductions as well. Should the proposed state budget change, we will reconsider the reductions as well as other opportunities that need funding as revenue permits.
You can learn more about the 2015-16 budget planning by attending one of the following information sessions:
Shorewood School Budget Information Sessions
Group Date Time Location
ATW/LB School Staff & PTO: April 9, 4-5 p.m., SIS Commons
SIS/SHS School Staff & PTO: April 13, 4-5 p.m., SIS Commons
Shorewood Men's Club: TBA
Shorewood Residents: TBA
2015-16 Enrollment Update
We are also carefully monitoring enrollment and reducing or adding sections consistent with our enrollment projections. We are adding a new section of third grade at Lake Bluff following the trend in previous years of expanding to four sections in grades 1 and 2. We are reducing a K5 section at Atwater because we currently have 54 students in K5 and 38 students in K4, so we anticipate a decreased number of students in K5 at Atwater for next school year. Our class size guideline with one teacher is a 22 student maximum. So the current K4 students going into two sections of K5 next year gives us a class size of 19 students for each section, with room to add three additional students in each section. If either section exceeds the additional three students, we will add a teacher's aide. We will also closely monitor registration during the summer months, and if the projection changes significantly, we will add a third section before the beginning of the new school year.
When a section is reduced, the teacher assigned to that section is typically assigned a new position at the school if there is an appropriate opening, or the teacher can apply for other openings in the District that match the teacher's certification. In the case of the Atwater section reduction above, the latter is currently in progress.
Leadership Transition Update
We have selected a new principal for Lake Bluff Elementary, Eric Norland, and we are currently finalizing a contract with him which will be brought to the Board for consideration in April. Eric will begin his duties onJuly 1, 2015 and we look forward to welcoming him to the Shorewood Schools team.
As we wrap up the search for the principal of Lake Bluff, we are ready to begin the search for a permanent principal at SIS. The staff and students at SIS will benefit from the stability that a permanent principal will bring. Staff, students, and parents will be very involved in the process. The position is currently being advertised and we are contacting teachers, parents, administrators and other staff members to serve on the interview panel. I am confident that we will find the next great leader for SIS, and I look forward to working with the SIS team to make this happen.
Lastly, I would also like to address my transition. The Board has contacted Jack Linehan to work with me and the Board during the transition to a new superintendent. I look forward to working with Jack and know that he will be an effective guide as we move through these next few months. Jack and I are developing a transition plan that we will share with the Board in April. This plan will identify what Jack's focus will be in supporting the District and the Board and what my focus will be to ensure a smooth transition. The Board will also review proposals from search firms as they move forward with hiring a new superintendent. The Board has put together a thoughtful approach to managing these changes—one that will serve Shorewood well.
I hope these updates are helpful in explaining where we stand currently, our next steps related to the 2015-16 budget, and what the various leadership transitions will look like in the coming months. We will share updates as we make progress.
Thursday April, 2, 2015