Fieldcrest Superintendent Dr. Dan Oakley discussed the Water Quality Management Plan that was developed by a mitigation team of school personnel and residents to resolve lead contamination in the water. Dr. Oakley said that while the federal government limit for lead in the water is 15 parts per million, the limit for schools in Illinois is 5 parts per million. He said the school is held to higher standards than even hospitals.
Dr. Oakley said there is not a quick fix for lead contamination in the water and it will take a painstaking effort to tests all sources of water in all of the school buildings. If a water source tests above 5 parts of lead per million, the water source will be shut off until the cause of the contamination is resolved. If the tests show lead parts per million between 0 and 5, the water source will be kept in service but efforts must be made to bring the level of lead down to as close to 0 as possible. He said the incidence of high levels of lead occur randomly with no common cause.
An example was cited at Fieldcrest South where two water fountains next to each other with water coming from the same pipe had different levels of lead.
Fieldcrest board members at their meeting Wednesday night. From the left is Kimberly McKay, Tim McNamara, Dr. Dan Oakley, Mykin Bernardi, Charles Lohr, Scott Hillenburg, Elizabeth Palm.
Dr. Oakley gave a copy of the Water Quality Management Plan report to board members for their review. An adoption of the plan will be voted on at the next council meeting at the end of the month.
The board heard testimony from the principals at the primary, secondary and middle schools on the changes they recommend to the curriculum in K-8. They all agreed that the attendance center structure initiated this year has worked very well and has resulted in more efficient learning and teaching.
Dr. Oakley discussed the Reduction in Force (RIF) policy for the school. He said the school must commit to predefined employment numbers in March for the State of Illinois without knowing what the real staffing requirements will be until September. Often in the past the school was stuck with more staff than was needed as the employment agreed to in March has to remain in effect at the beginning of the school year even if they are not needed. Dr. Oakley said the way to circumvent this problem is to drop certain staff in March knowing that they probably will be called back in August. He said this year the school will drop a few monitors, bus drivers and teachers assistants in March and then bring them back in August if they are needed.
Dr. Oakley said that if staff has to be reduced, it is done by dropping a staff member based on their ratings where satisfactory is the lowest, proficient is next and excellent is the highest. The lowest rated are the first to be cut. He said the ratings of a staff member is made from an evaluation by the principal of the school.
Dr. Oakley anticipates having the same number of teachers next year as this year although the school will be hiring another social worker to add to the school's staff of two guidance counselors and one social worker. He said it is tough finding teachers in Illinois. He said Illinois has an outflow of highly paid professional workers while having in inflow of lower paid workers. He did add that he felt the Fieldcrest school district has a fairly good salary schedule.
Dr. Oakley briefly touched on the increase in technology in the schools and how the school has to adapt to changing technological needs. He personally felt that cell phones should be allowed in schools just like they are in the work place. He said the school should teach students how to use their cell phones appropriately.
Dr. Oakley said the school's speech services teacher in special education will be on maternity leave until April and that function will be dropped unless a replacement can be found soon. He said it will be unlikely the school will be able to find a replacement and said an option is to have a summer session for speech services. This option would require the school to provide bus transportation.
The session ended with Dr, Oakley giving a slide presentation of the budget review. The current operating funds stand at $5,732,208 compared to last year's $4,101,957. So far this year, budgeted revenue is at 77.92% while budgeted expenditures are at 50.73%. He concluded by saying the school should finish in the black this year.