Board of Education Briefs for January 25, 2016

Board of Education Briefs for January 25, 2016

The District 99 Board of Education held its business meeting on January 25, 2016. Highlights from the meeting include:

Life Safety Bond Request

A public hearing was held to receive public comment about the district’s request for authorization of $1.43 million in Life Safety Bonds. Last fall, the district identified over $5 million in capital projects that could be financed through Life Safety Bonds. Please click here to see a list of the projects presented in September 2015. At that time, the district requested that the Board approve $3.5 million of the total amount. The district is now seeking to increase the amount it is requesting, based on the fact that the Illinois State Board of Education approved almost all of the projects identified as well as the possibility that the district could receive a Qualified School Construction Bond designation, whereby the interest would be paid by the federal government. “Being able to receive this money without paying interest on it would be a huge benefit to our constituency,” said Board Member Mike Davenport.

Resident Scott O’Connell expressed concern about using Life Safety Bonds to fund capital projects.

Please click here to details about the bond hearing and request.

School Calendar

The district has been considering whether to adopt an “early start” calendar, where the first semester ends before winter break. Superintendent Dr. McDonald said that the committee’s study has revealed “quite a bit of information.” He said that while District 99 is in the minority of large suburban high schools that end first semester after the holiday break, there are a number of challenges associated with adopting an early start calendar. These include holding school during hot weather days, not aligning with elementary school districts, disrupting already planned family vacations and making scheduling of athletic events difficult. Even so, there are also many benefits to an early start calendar, including reducing class time spent reviewing for final exams (vs. learning new content), giving students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses more time to learn the content and ensuring a smooth transition to postsecondary institutions for those students graduating at the end of first semester.

The district’s calendar committee will make a recommendation about the 2016-17 school year calendar to the Board on February 1, 2016. The recommendation will include as an option the traditional calendar that was presented to the Board last September. Please click here to see the traditional calendar option.

Student Fees

The recommended student fee schedule for 2016-17 has been restructured and simplified. Although the registration and textbook fee will increase by $20 to $310, this increase will be offset by the elimination of a number of smaller fees that the district has charged in the past. For example, a $40 fee for a student activity pass will be eliminated and all students will receive free admission to athletic events, plays and musicals. The district expects this will remove barriers and increase participation. Most other fees remain unchanged, including the $90 1:1 Digital Learning fee. Please click here to see the recommended 2016-17 fee schedule. The Board will vote on the fee schedule at its next business meeting on February 22, 2016.

Financial Reports

The Board reviewed the district’s fund balances, revenues collected and expenditures paid. The district is investing in tax anticipation warrants to bolster short-term earnings. Food service revenues are lower than last year, and the district is working with its food service provider to determine reasons. It was noted the district has received between $3,000 to $4,000 a month in fuel rebates from transportation providers due to the low cost of fuel. Please click here to read a summary of the quarterly report.

Since the 2014-15 school year, the district’s reserves have dropped below the level the district considers as “safe.” Therefore, it is identifying changes to reduce spending by $1 million in its 2016-17 budget. In addition to reducing overtime allocations, modifications to professional development and transportation are proposed. Also, the district is not planning to sponsor the ACT testing next year, since it is no longer required by the state. Please click here to read a summary of the budget development process and proposed cost savings plan.

Board Actions

The Board of Education unanimously approved the student to teacher staffing ratio of 21.8:1, as recommended based on enrollment projections, as well as a resolution to abate taxes for Alternative Revenue Bonds issued in 2011.

Please click here to see a video of the meeting

Please click here to see the full agenda and supporting documents

Upcoming Board Meetings:

  • February 1, 2016 – Board of Education Workshop Meeting at ASC, 7 p.m.
  • February 22, 2016 – Board of Education Business Meeting at ASC, 7:30 p.m.

This publication is for information purposes only; minutes approved by the Board serve as the official meeting record.