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Board Briefs - August 16, 2022

  • The Board Briefs are highlights from the most recent Board of Education meetings. The purpose of the Board Briefs is to provide a timely summary to keep our staff, parents and public informed of the key items that were discussed or acted upon. More detailed information is available under the Board Schedules, Agendas and Minutes section of the District’s website. Official minutes are not posted until approval at the following meeting.

     

    Board Approves Tentative FY23 Budget

    Superintendent Mark Cross presented the fiscal year 2023 budget, which includes an estimated deficit of just over $375,000. He stated that inflationary increases have impacted the district just like any other business and added that while this is a significant deficit, some of it is also related to the timing of local tax payments. Mr. Cross also shared the good news that FY22 ended with a surplus, which he credited to careful and conservative management of expenditures as well as the timing of tax payments that arrived earlier than expected.

    The biggest concern for the FY23 budget and beyond is related to how to manage the loss and replacement of the district's HVAC units over time. Mr. Cross emphasized that there are not funds in the budget to handle these types of costs and it would be much better to replace these as part of the long-term plan that the Board has previously developed. This relates directly to plans to upgrade the district's safety, security and HVAC systems with a successful bond referendum. He said that in the absence of approved funding to finance the Board's plan, other budgetary decisions will have to be made to get the work done, which will impact the education of our students.

    Later in the meeting, the Board voted to approve the tentative FY23 budget and establish the public hearing and adoption for Tuesday, September 27, at 7:00 p.m.

    Healthy Kids, Safe Schools

    The Board reviewed the new Healthy Kids, Safe Schools section of the district website. This ties in with the strategic plan and will be a central resource for students, parents and families. Information includes updated school health guidance, medical, mental health, anti-bullying, suicide prevention, sexual abuse prevention and school safety information, as well resources for families who may be struggling. Resources will continue to be added and information pushed out as needed. Also included is a listing of the school district's nurse, guidance counselors, social workers and school psychologist to facilitate communication and contacts when help is needed.

    Board Approves Pursuing November Referendum for Safety, Security and HVAC Needs

    The Board continued its ongoing discussion to address critical safety, security and facility needs at both schools. Mr. Cross reviewed a summary of the key issues and facts regarding proposal:

    • The district would issue up to $12.8 million in bonds that must be approved by a referendum of the voters at the general election on November 8, 2022.
    • The primary purpose is to address specific safety, security and HVAC needs, and also refunding an existing bond. Funds can be used for no other purpose.
    • The safety and security needs include replacing the old fire alarm system, updating and modernizing the video surveillance system, and purchasing an integrated intercom and communication system for extreme emergencies.
    • The HVAC needs would be addressed through a geothermal system in both schools. This approach provides a permanent solution that is the most cost-effective in terms of total life-cycle costs.
    • The proposed solutions will save in the range of $70,000 to $100,000 in annual utility costs, which frees up funds in the district’s operating budget.
    • The last voter approved referendum was in 1990 to increase the overall tax rate by 40 cents. After 32 years, the district is still not asking for a change to the rate outside of the proposed bond from what was approved in 1990.
    • If approved, the impact for an average priced home of $300,000 is estimated at $235. The estimated $0.25 increase would impact the current tax rate of school district residents by less than 4 percent.
    • The refunding of the bond would immediately save over $200,000 in interest costs from the existing bond, while freeing up over $300,000 in revenue for the district’s operation and maintenance budget each year going forward.
    • While the school district continues to build on its strong financial health, the vast majority of budget expenditures are committed toward the educational program. With local revenues tied to the consumer price index, school finances do not allow for a comprehensive overhaul of an infrastructure cost of this nature.
    • If the referendum fails and the district is forced to replace the existing system within the existing budget over a period of year, the long-term costs will be far greater and will also come at the expense of the educational program.

    The Board unanimously agreed that nothing has changed from the needs that the district has been trying to address, although now the solutions have been delayed for another year even if the November referendum is successful. Mr. Cross and the Board will continue to provide the community and taxpayers with detailed, factual information to make them aware of the needs, as well as the proposal and cost for the solutions.

    After stating its full support for placing the resolution and question on the ballot for November, Mr. Cross stated that he will soon update information from the district to share with the community.

    In Key Action Items, the Board of Education …

    • Accepted the resignations of Quinn Csuk, Lauren Malik, Kevin O’Toole, Amber Hanke and Ernest Brown
    • Approved the employment of Amy Gorzkowski, Sladjola Jemin, Tim Stangarone, Karen Lampl, Joanne Groh and long-term substitute Nancy Betker
    • Approved the Behavioral Threat Assessment Procedure
    • Approved the Fiscal Year 2023 Tentative Budget
    • Approved September 27, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. to hold the Fiscal Year 2023 Public Budget Hearing in the District Community Room at Cass Junior High School
    • Approved the Resolution Providing for and Requiring the Submission of the Proposition of Issuing $12,800,000 School Bonds to the Voters of the District at the General Election to be Held on the 8th Day of November, 2022
    • Approved the release of Closed Session Minutes from January 18, 2022
    • Approved the destruction of verbatim audio records from Closed Session meetings held prior to January 1, 2021 per the Illinois Open Meetings Act, 5 ILCS 120
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