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Fieldcrest to stop funding extra-curriculars

Thursday, September 25, 2003 Posted 11:00 p.m.
A somber Fieldcrest Board of Education bit the proverbial bullet Thursday night and voted to stop the funding of extra-curricular activities at the school. Board member Pat Schmillen said that the school simply cannot keep on spending money that it doesn't have. Board member Joe Kirkpatrick said that the school is measured on the required courses, not extra-curriculars, and the board has no choice but to eliminate extra-curricular funding in order to cut expenses by $1,000,000. Kirkpatrick said that the school spends over $200,000 in coaches salaries for sports and spends $1.75 per mile to bus students and athletes to events.

The momentous decision means that Fieldcrest may not be participating in some or all sporting events in 2004. Board member Tim McNamara said that times are tough for everyone. He said that the community has a choice. It can either fold up and quit or it can rally together to keep Fieldcrest going. McNamara said that we are not going to get any help from the state. He said he has contacted our political representatives and they don't even want to talk about property taxes.

Board members Melinda Tiraboschi and Tom Barth voted against the elimination of extra-curriculars. Tiraboschi said that without sports there will be no Fieldcrest. Barth said that eliminating extra-curriculars will prevent families from moving to the community. Minonk resident Craig Kalkwarf said that all the work he and his family have done for the community in the last 20 years will be in vain if the school decides to drop extra-curriculars.

Schmillen said that the cutting of extra-curricular funding does not include just sports, but also music, art, student council, plays, etc. She said the community will have to find a way to fund these programs until the school becomes financially solvent again. Fieldcrest football coach Jim DeMay said that the board must make a decision by January if any sports programs are going to be dropped so that the various conferences can be notified so as to arrange the schedules for the following year. Schmillen said that those decisions will be made by January. Schmillen said that the newly appointed Citizens Advisory Committee will help determine if some extra-curriculars can be funded by the community.

Citizens Advisory Committee

Schmillen said that 6 members have been selected so far for the citizens adivsory committee to help guide the board in deciding how to cut expenses. Craig Meyer and Ronald Marshall of Minonk, Tom Marriotti from Toluca, Russ Martin and John Lauf from Wenona and teacher Garilyn Wells from Minonk have been accepted as members of the committee. The board will select 3 more members for the committee by October 9. The committee will help decide which extra-curriculars will be cut and how funding can be established for the remaining extra-curriculars.

Budget approved

Fieldcrest Superintendent Dr. Michael Stagliano added more gloom to the meeting in revealing the terms of the proposed budget for 2004. The budget projects a deficit of $274,781. However, this figure is misleading because part of the revenue for 2004 will come from $1,000,000 of tax anticipation notes. Essentially, this means that the school is borrowing from next year's tax revenues which eventually have to be paid back. Stagliano said that the school is borrowing on 25% of its total education expenses. He said if the school didn't borrow money, it wouldn't have enough money to finish the school year. He said the school must find another source of revenue or cut payroll. Doing nothing will make matters worse and the school will eventually be put on the financial watch list.

Stagliano said that expenses keep escalating while declining EVA's have put a cap on revenue. He said that insurance costs are out of control increasing by over 23% last year. Fuel costs have increased also. The biggest increase is the salary costs. The school is locked into increases negotiated in a contract approved two years ago. Stagliano said that the school also has been hit hard by workers compensation claims, including some "strange" claims. One insurance company has already dropped the school because of the excessive workers compensation claims. Federal mandates included in the No Child Left Behind program approved by Congress two years ago has cost the school over $100,000 above the grants provided by the government. He said that the school has been deficit spending for years which slowly eroded the school's reserves. Stagliano added that the Fieldcrest school district is expensive to maintain because of the many buildings spread over 3 communities and having to support 2 junior high schools.

Wenona TIF Payments

Superintendent Stagliano said that the school has received another payment from the City of Wenona's TIF fund. He said in addition to the $12,000 received on August 15th, another $17,000 was received on September 4. He said that another $15,000 is expected this week. Stagliano said the payments represent money accrued as a result of the increase in the property within Wenona's TIF district, which includes the entire city. Stagliano said that he is studying the intergovernmental agreement he received from the Wenona TIF district to determine why payments are all of sudden being made. He said there appears to be an inconsistency between the amount received and the wording in the intergovernmental agreement.


Superintendent Stagliano said that there have been 1260 students enrolled in the Fieldcrest school district. The board approved a bid of $6900 by Glen Brazellius of Bloomington to do tuck pointing and brick repair work on the Fieldcrest High School building. The Board of Health said that the source of the mold that plagued the school building last year is due to cracked mortar and seepage in the walls of the building.