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Mercury drops; expenses soar

PES looks at problems caused by winter’s fury

Published: Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 1:04 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 1:06 p.m. CST

PRINCETON — Princeton Elementary School District is feeling the impact of this year’s unusually cold winter temperatures with cancelled school days and increased heating costs.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the PES Board, Superintendent Tim Smith said the district has already had five snow/cold day cancellations so far, and the winter isn’t finished yet. The district has made up one of those days with a previously scheduled Teacher Institute day. The state could possibly grant a waiver for the required number of attendance days, if needed, he said.

The bottom line is PES will have days to make up this year. Any adjustments to the school calendar will be brought to the board for final approval.

The cold weather is also killing the district with its increased costs for snow removal and for heating, Smith said. The building fund has experienced greater expenses because boilers can’t be turned down at night, as usual, in fear of pipes freezing, which would create another whole problem.

In past fiscal years, the district has gotten a reprieve when it came to the weather, but that’s not happening this year, Smith said.

In other financial concerns, Smith said the state of Illinois still owes the district a total of $344,429 in late payments for this fiscal year. Of that amount, $240,309 is due to the education fund, which includes $96,838 owed for the Early Childhood Block Grant. The state also owes $104,120 in the transportation fund.

In comparison, the state is ahead slightly in its payments from one year ago at this time. However, it’s important to realize the payments are diminished in the amount of money PES had received previously from the state. The money owed PES by the state should be in the district’s coffers, not the state’s (coffers), Smith said.

In other business, the board had first readings of several policy changes, including language which would ban the use of medical marijuana on school property and also ban concealed carry weapons from being brought onto school grounds. Another policy change under consideration for health/sex education would remove the phrase “abstinence until marriage” and replace it with the one word “abstinence.”

The board will review the policy changes with second readings in February and vote for adoption.

The board recognized Logan Junior High Geography Bee Winners Alex Peck, first place; Ryan Frank, second place; and Nolan Frank, third place.

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