The Special Education District of McHenry County has announced it intends to lay off 50 percent of its employees at the end of the school year.
At SEDOM's Wednesday board meeting it was recommended that 122 positions — 31 certified and 91 uncertified positions — be eliminated.
Executive Director Kathy Wilhoit cited reduced student enrollment and fewer requests for services for the reduction in force.
“This is a more dramatic cut than in previous years,” Wilhoit said. “It's more significant.”
Wilhoit said it is possible some employees could be recalled at the end of the academic year or the summer, depending on final enrollment evaluations and member district needs.
Last year SEDOM cut 63 position and recalled 59 of those employees. In 2011, 89 employees were let go and 65 were recalled.
Estimates on the number of employees recalled for next year had not yet been determined, Wilhoit said.
Employees were to receive an official letter of termination by Friday. The certified positions eliminated include teachers, psychologists and social workers. Office support staff, classroom assistants and other positions that don't require a bachelor's degree make up the uncertified cuts, Wilhoit said.
Wilhoit declined to say how much SEDOM would save by eliminating the positions.
“It's not necessarily about cost savings,” she said. “Each year we add or reduce staff based on needs of our member districts.”
District 47 in Crystal Lake is one of the 18 school districts in McHenry County that uses SEDOM's services. The district has 1,000 fewer students than it did seven years ago and now has the room to provide those services in-house, Superintendent Donn Mendoza said.
“We can now provide the services SEDOM offers at the district level," he said. "We have always had a positive relationship with SEDOM. But if we can provide an equal level of service here, we like providing that.”
Carol Smith, director of community services at District 200 in Woodstock, agreed there has been a greater push to provide services to students with special needs at their home schools. Only one student in the district uses SEDOM's services, Smith said.
“It's always a benefit for students to be in their home school,” she said.
The layoffs at SEDOM are another example in a long list of education cuts in Illinois. Since 2009 Illinois has seen $861 million in cuts to the state education budget, resulting in the termination of 6,400 teaching positions, Illinois State Board of Education Spokeswoman Mary Fergus said.
Along with providing services to McHenry County school districts, SEDOM also operates two schools for students with significant behavioral and medical issues.