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School Board gives relief to overcrowded class

Thursday, September 4, 2003 Posted 10:00 p.m.
The Fieldcrest Board of Education approved the hiring of a half-time teacher for the first grade class at Elementary West in Toluca. The class has 31 students and several special education students that severely impacted the workload of the teacher. Superintendent Dr. Michael Stagliano said that there is a vacant classroom that will allow the class to be split into two groups in the morning. The half-time teacher and the normal teacher would teach the core courses in the morning in separate classrooms. In the afternoon they would be combined again but the classes would be involved in noncore courses such as music and art.

Report from State Financial Consultant

Brent Appell, financial consultant with the Illinois State Board of Education, told the school board that Fieldcrest is not unique in its financial woes. He stated that most smaller Central Illinois schools have been hit hard by declining EVA that cut deeply into revenues while expenses keep rising. Appell said that Fieldcrest will have to start borrowing money in order to keep operating. He said the school must either increase revenues through a tax increase referendum, or cut expenses which involves slashing personnel from the payroll, or reorganize. The state is not going to change its funding of education. He said that it is expensive to run a school district which has many different buildings in many different communities. He said the school will have to make a decision by Christmas whether to seek another tax referedum or cut expenses.

Bus leasing

Joe Bailey, representative for a bus leasing company, said that the school is better off leasing busses instead of buying them because of the age of the bus fleet. Bailey said that leasing 10 busses involves the same financial committment as purchasing 5 busses and there will be less maintenance cost having 5 more new busses. He said that the state reimburses the school district for 20% of the cost of a bus for 5 years. However, he said many times only 75% of the cost is actually reimbursed by the state. Superintendent Stagliano said that he felt that an outright purchase of a bus is better when there is an adequate cash flow in the transportation fund. The board decided to review the options and decide at a later date whether to buy or lease.

Changing bus routes

Rural Dana resident Peggy Winters asked the board if her child could be picked up by the special shuttle bus that goes through Dana each day and then goes directly to Wenona. She said that the normal bus route for her child requires that he be dropped off in Minonk and then take another bus to Wenona. Board member Tim McNamara said that if the board changes the route for her child then everyone will want a change. The board agreed that the shuttle bus could pick up Winter's child at a pickup point for other students in Dana if it is determined that there is room on the bus.

Citizens Advisory Committee

The board discussed the functions of the newly created citizens advisory board. Board member Pat Schmillen said that the board will determine how much has to be cut from extra-curriculars and then the advisory committee will determine what curriculars should be cut. Board member Joe Kirkpatrick said that at least $300,000 must be cut from extra-curriculars in order to keep expenses in line with revenue. The selection of members for the advisory committee is expected to be finalized by the September 25 board meeting.