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Fieldcrest board approves school fees

Thursday, December 4, 2003 Posted 11:00 p.m.
The Fieldcrest Board of Education approved activity fees recommended by the Citizens Advisory Committee at an information meeting in Minonk Thursday night. The vote came after listening to members of the Citizens Advisory Committee tell the board that they have not received any feedback from the board on the committee's recommendations and that the committee cannot continue until the board either approves or rejects their recommendations for school fees. CAC member Tim Sanders told the board that the board has left the committee hanging with no feedback. Sanders also complained about the lack of attendance of school board members at their meetings. He said that Tim McNamara was the only board member to attend the last three meetings.

CAC member Garilyn Wells also cited the board for dragging its feet on making decisions. She said that the committee cannot start fund raising for extra-curriculars until they know what extra-curriculars can be afforded. She said the committee won't know what extra-curriculars can be afforded until the board approves a fee structure. Wells said that the participation fee for sports can only be determined after the activity fee amounts are known.

Fieldcrest school board member Tim McNamara said it was his opinion that the school district has too many luxuries. He recommended that one sport be cut from each school in order to reduce the cost of extra-curriculars.

Fieldcrest school board member Pat Schmillen said that the activity fees of $200 was too high. She said it is a fee in which the student has no choice but to pay. She added that the suggested participation fee of $150 for sports is elective. Schmillen felt that the activity fees should be lower than the sports participation fees. She felt that the activity fees would be used to help fund someone who wanted to particpate in sports. Schmillen suggested that the fees be lowered to $125. CAC member Tim Sanders told Schmillen that would require participation fees for sports to be set at $290 which would prevent a lot of students from participating in sports. Schmillen made a motion to set the activity fees at $125 for high school, $75 for middle school, and $25 for elementary grades. Her motioned, however, died due to the lack of a second.

Board member Joe Kirkpatrick made a motion to accept the fees proposed by the CAC which was $200 for grades 9-12, $125 for grades 6-8, and $25 for grades K-5. The motion included the provision that both the activity fees and the participation fees would be reduced equally by revenue raised through fund raisers. The motion was approved with Schmillen voting no.

Attendance centers

Fieldcrest West instructor Don Nuttall presented his research on attendance centers to the board. Nuttall said his research shows that the most cost effective schools and the schools that provide the best education are those that have broad span grades. He said having grades K-12 in the same building is more efficient than having the grades separated into different buildings or communities as is done with attendance centers.

Nuttall said that attendance centers have more drop-out students and discriminates against the lower socio-economic class. He said that it is not certain that attendance centers will save money. According to Nutall, the Superintendent at Princeton High School said there was not much savings from going to attendace centers at that school.

Nuttall concluded by saying that attendance centers are not easily undone if it is determined later that it was a mistake. He said that the real enemy is the $1,000,000 deficit. He said that the communities must stop bickering and work together to come up with a solution to the school's economic crisis.

Fieldcrest instructor Garilyn Wells said that she supports attendance centers because they provide more parity in educating students. She said currently there is a disparity in class sizes among the same grade at the two middle schools which can result in a difference in the quality of education. Wells contended that combining students together at the same grade level has a unifying effect and is the best way to create a sense of solidarity among the students. She said creating attendance centers is not going to make the schools any bigger.

Other news

The board approved the purchase of a floor scrubber for $3600. Superintendent Dr. Michael Stagliano said that the use of the floor scrubber will save money by eliminating the overtime paid now to keep the floors clean. He said the scrubber will also allow better maintenance of the floors which could add to their life span.

Superintendent Stagliano gave the board a list of changes that can be made to cut costs. The list will be the basis of discussion at the next board meeting on December 14.