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Fieldcrest Advisory Committee holds first meeting

Thursday, October 9, 2003 Posted 10:00 p.m.
The Fieldcrest Citizens Advisory Committee held its first meeting Thursday night in the Fieldcrest Libary room. Fieldcrest faculty member Garilyn Wells asked what the committee's function is to be since the Fieldcrest Board of Education has already decided not to fund extracurriculars. Board member Pat Schmillen told the committee that they should provide suggestions to the Board on what extracurriculars are to be kept and how they might be funded.

Fieldcrest Superintendent Dr. Michael Stagliano told the committee that they should provide their recommendations in writing. Staglanio also said the committee should elect officers at its next meeting and establish parliamentary protocol for its meetings similar to that of the school board.

Schmillen reminded the board that it is necessary to determine which fall sports are to be kept or dropped by January in order to notify the athletic conferences. Dr. Stagliano provided the committee with a breakdown of the cost of each extracurricular activity. Committtee member Tim Sanders of Minonk said that the committee will need a record of revenue generated by each activity in order to determine the net cost. Dr. Staglanio said that gate receipts and associated fees will be provided at the next meeting.

Stagliano told the committee that the decrease in farmland value for taxation has declined the past few years and will not pick up again for at least two more years. School board president Jeff Pickard said that the school got caught in the financial squeeze that has affected everyone since September 11, 2001. Pickard said prior to that the school had over $1,000,000 in reserves that was drawing 6% interest which helped to support extracurricular activities. Since then the decline in interest rates and interest income has drained the reserves because now interest rates are down close to 1%.

Schmillen said that she feels that parents and friends of students involved in various extracurriculars will raise the necessary funds to support the activity. She felt that a year from now over 90% of the extracurriculars will be funded by support groups. However, committee members John Lauf of Wenona and Ronald "Corky" Marshall of Minonk both felt that public funding will be good for only a limited amount of time. Lauf said that eventually we will need either to raise fees or taxes in order to keep extracurriculars.

Committee member Craig Meyer of Minonk reminded everyone that sports in not the only extracurricular being cut. He said that dropping the National Honor Society and other extracurriculars will make it harder for Fieldcrest graduates to get into the better universities.

Committee member Russ Martin of Wenona said that we have to do something to save our communities. He said that dropping extracurriculars will cause people to live elsewhere and the Fieldcrest communities will eventually die. Board president Pickard said that people have already been calling him asking where they can donate money for extracurriculars. He suggested that the committee contact the local banks to set up an extracurricular fund where banking customers can donate.

The committee assigned individuals to contact other schools on how they handled their funding problems. Blue Ridge, Chenoa, St. Mary's in Pontiac, St. Stephens in Streator, and Trinity in Bloomington will be contacted and reports prepared for the next meeting. The next meeting of the advisory committee will be October 16 and 23 at the Fieldcrest Library room where feedback from other schools will be discussed and officers will be elected.