The Fieldcrest CUSD 6 Board of Education held its quarterly planning meeting on Wednesday, January 11, 2017. Members present were Tom Barth, Tammi Coons, Scott Hillenburg, Joe Kirkpatrick, Greg Kroeschen, Tim McNamara, and Danielle Reichman. Also present were Superintendent Dr. Daniel L. Oakley, building principals Molly Allen, Jason Chaplin, William Lapp, and Nate Lorton, and a few community members.
There were no public comments.
The Board discussed five items during the planning meeting.
1. Calendar for 2017-2018 - The Board discussed options related to how teachers can meet in larger groups to discuss transitional items and data as the grade level realignment takes effect in 2017-2018. Options include a few half-day SIP days with dismissal in the early afternoon for those days, or doing something similar to what Unit 5 does with late starts once a month. Both cause disruptions for parents, but late starts take out the issue of practices and games in the afternoon. Dr. Oakley will investigate late starts and talk to staff about how that would work.
2. Grade level realignment - Dr. Oakley showed the Board assignments for grades K-8 next school year. The Board also heard about what steps are next, including hiring bus drivers and monitors, preparing for the moves necessary, and the teacher advisory committee which is working on openings in the fall. There was also some discussion regarding some uncertainties regarding how some sections of music and art will be scheduled, and that the discussion will be ongoing until a solution is reached.
3. MAP assessment package - The administration has indicated for a few years now the district needs a longitudinal, diagnostic assessment package for its students. The state tests used to provide at least a marginal option for assessment in the past, but it is no longer reliable due to continual changes in number of tests and which tests are given, as well as how the tests are administered. The administrative team and teachers have reviewed options and selected the MAP testing system as their solution. Mrs. Allen and the administrative team presented information regarding the MAP system to the Board. The MAP system will replace the less useful AIMSweb system.
4. Budget/5-year outlook - Dr. Oakley reviewed what we know about the budget in broad form over the next 4-5 years. For the 2016-2017 school year, if all trends continue as is, the district will likely be in the red in the amount of $500,000-$600,000 in the operating funds. For the 2017-2018 school year, shifts in costs (staff reductions, increase in busing costs, and contractual salary increases) as compared with trends in state funding will likely place the deficit at $200,000 to $300,000, and a similar amount the following year or two. All of this is predicated on the state of Illinois maintaining the status quo on funding priorities and bill paying, and any changes in how the state operates could make significant changes on the expected deficit. To cover the expected gap of around $1-$1.2 million over the next three years or so, the Board could choose several options; including cutting staff/administration, which would require digging into programs and eliminating reasons for students to be present at school and therefore is not a good approach; closing a building with unknown savings and value,with increases in transportation and possible crowding in buildings, an option which Dr. Oakley expressly noted is not a good idea at this time; or bonding to cover the deficit, which is what Dr. Oakley recommended. The district will complete its bond payments this year, and is already approved to bond $1.2 million in the working cash fund, which can be distributed to other funds as needed to continue operations. This will likely be accomplished at the February regular Board meeting, if there are no significant changes in the state's mode of fiscal operation during the month of January.
5. Election information - Dr. Oakley reviewed the slate of Board candidates, as well as a runoff of meetings to be held and things to be accomplished after the election is completed.
In action items, the Board adopted the PRESS October 2016 Board Policy Update.
The next regular Board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 25, 2017, at 6:30 pm at Fieldcrest High School band room, with closed session starting at 6:00 pm