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School board discusses fees and attendance centers

Friday, November 7, 2003 Posted 11:00 a.m.
A large crowd attended the Fieldcrest Board of Education meeting Thursday night at Fieldcrest South in Minonk to learn more about what cuts will be made to resolve the school's financial crisis. Russ Martin, Chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee, presented the board with a list of proposed fees for various activities. These fees would be used to fund some of the extracurricular activities that will not be funded by the school. The proposed fee schedule is as follows:
  • K-5: $25.00 to cover field trips
  • 6-8: $125.00 for activities
  • 9-12: $200.00 for activities
These increased fees would generate $38,550 for renewal of fieldtrips at each grade level. They would also generate a total of $118,600 for the sponsorship of activities at the middle and high school levels. The committee recommended that the money from these fees be used to fund K.O.R.T., student councils, and yearbooks. These fees would meet approximately half of the needed revenues to fund the non-IHSA and non-IESA activities.

The committee also recommended a 20% reduction in salaries for sponsors/coaches and a review of the salary schedule each year by the school board in hopes of brining the schedule back to it's present level when financial conditions improve.

The committee is reviewing transporatation costs and will be proposing a reduction in bussing. Fund raisers are also being considered in an effort to fund extracurriculars. Martin said that the committee will be presenting a participation fee schedule for sports at the next board meeting. He said that some businesses in the community have said that they will hire needy students for summer work to help them pay for participation fees in sports. The City of Wenona has indicated they will hire 4 to 5 students for summer work.

Attendance centers

The Fieldcrest Adminstrative Team presented a further study on the use of attendance centers in which students will attend a school based on their grade level rather than their geographical proximity. Using the S.W.O.T. method of analysis, the team presented the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the use of attendance centers. Among the strengths were cost savings, equalized grade level class sizes, elimination of duplication of services, eliminate rivalry between East and West schools, same curriculum for all students, only one sports team for East and West, flexibility of schedules, familiarity of students, shared resources, and a sense of a true Fieldcrest District.

Among the weaknesses cited were the possibility of larger class sizes, same number of buildings will be used, transporation problems, sense of community will be lost, a community may suffer economically, kids from one family split into multiple schools, will FHS be moved to East in two years or will elevators need to be installed at West & FHS?, parental concerns about younger children traveling, loss of faith - consolidation was based on certain promises, less flexibility with special ed. students, and allowing finances to drive all decisions.

The study also pointed out some opportunities. They were sharing materials and resources, grade level teacher collaboration easier to facilitate, one Fieldcrest PTO, a truly articulated curriculum, a sense of community among districts and towns since students will attend schools at each community, 4 day week, students exposed to different teaching styles, and co-op daycare and pre-school at FHS.

The study showed that $205,700 can be saved through the use of attendance centers. The savings are as follows:

  • Cut 2 kindergarten teachers(1/2 day): $18,000
  • Cut K-4 computer teacher(3 blds): $32,700
  • Cut 1 M.S. computer teacher(1/2 time at West and East): $7,000
  • Technology license reductions(E,W, and S): $20,000
  • Cut 1/2 teacher at West(Second grade -04-05):$15,000
  • Cut Title 1 teacher at East and West: $28,000
  • Eliminate 2 music positions(1@south/FHS, 1@3-5(W) 6-8(E):$85,000

Working Cash Bonds

Kevin Heid of First Midstate of Bloomington discussed a working cash bond issue of $750,000 for the school district. Heid said that working cash bonds are designed to provide supplemental funds for schools. Heid said that most schools in Illinois are in financial difficulty. He said this is not due to mismanagement on the part of the schools but is the result of financial problems at the state level working its way down through the system.

Heid said that working cash bonds are a better instrument for financing than tax anticipation warrants. Working cash bonds are self-liquidating and are paid back through a tax levy whereas tax aniticipation warrants are paid back through a reduction in property tax receipts from the following year leaving the school with less money to work with. Monies from working cash bonds are regarded as current assets available for school purposes and can not be used by the board in any manner other than to provide monies with which to meet disbursements for salaries and other school purposes.

According to Fieldrest Superintendent Michael Stagliano, the school will need more money by March in order to meet payroll. Since it takes at least 3 months to set up a working cash bond issuance, Board president Jeff Pickard said that the board should be prepared to start the process at its next meeting.

Superintendent's Report

Superintendent Michael Stagliano said that Woodford County was the only county to show any commercial growth among the four counties within the Fieldcrest School District. Stagliano said that Woodford County showed a 28% increase while the decline in the other counties left the district's EVA flat. He said that insurance costs will increase by 20% next year and the school will need to fund another $22,000 to match the Medicare deduction to be taken for teachers hired before 1986.

Stagliano said that substitute costs for September were $5690. The substitutes cover all subs for the Educ Fund: cooks, teachers, secretaries, aides; some faculty subs are paid from grants. He said the illness substitute claim is very low for teachers.

Another unfunded mandate is being proposed by the state which would require school breakfasts to be provided for certain school districts that fall within a specified economic category. Stagliano said that the schools are lobbying against the proposal on principal because it is an unfunded mandate.

The board voted to hire Donna Robbins to replace the late Doris Skaggs in the school cafeteria.