Espinoza: Building success

LaMoille schools approved for upgrade program

LAMOILLE — The LaMoille School District is undertaking technology and building improvements, thanks to participation in the federal Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) Program.

Approved for program participation by the Illinois State Board of Education, the LaMoille School District qualified for a $500,000, zero-interest bond through the QZAB program. Among the criteria for selection is that at least 35 percent of a district’s students must be eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches under the National School Lunch Act.

LaMoille District Superintendent Ricardo Espinoza said another requirement for bond approval is for a school district to receive in-kind services, cash or donation participation from local businesses or groups. That requirement has been met with five business partnerships, he said.

Business partnerships

Fathom Media Inc. has installed three complete audio visual integrated solutions for the district. Following an evaluation period, the school district may choose to buy the integrated solutions, in whole, for a total cost of $12,546, or the district may cancel the evaluation and return all integrated solutions.

Achieve3000 will provide 220 licenses for one year, so the LaMoille School District, Grades 2 through 12, can use the company’s online differentiated instructional literacy platforms. The in-kind services of professional development and one-year pilot program is valued at $13,747.

ByteSpeed’s in-kind services total $20,498, which includes, in part, training and professional development, and a six-month use of 15 NL4 tablets for students at no charge to the district, Espinoza said. The school can use these 15 tablets to see if they are what the district wants. The district did buy five tablets to supplement the initial 15. The tablets stay with the seniors who use them throughout the day.

Common Goals Systems Inc. is providing a $220 discount on the subscription price for its web-based student information management services known as Teacher/Ease and SchoolInsight. This will extend from 2014 until 2018.

Jackson Kahl Insurance Services is providing $1,000 for its participation in the Qualified Zone Academy Program with LaMoille. Jackson Kahl spokesperson Lisa Dippel said the company was “excited to partner with the program goals.”

How to use the bond money

The bond money may be used for renovating school buildings, buying equipment, developing curriculum and training school personnel, Espinoza said. The Qualified Zone Academy emphasizes academic growth for all students, accommodating the diverse learning styles, interests and developmental readiness of LaMoille students.

Strategies to reach that growth include the utilization of hands-on activities, real life situations, question/answer sessions, individual and group projects and the use of comprehensive technology that uses both hardware and software applications.

Advantage to taxpayers

Participation in the QZAB Program will cost the district $10,000 in fees, for a total of $510,000 for the five-year, zero percent working cash bond, Espinoza said. The program is saving taxpayers money because the district is accustomed to borrowing life safety money in the $200,000-$300,000 range each year at a 5 or 6 percent interest rate or higher. The QZAB bond will be repaid in increments of $100,000 by taxpayers in five years, he said.

The district will use $300,000 of the bond for repairs at all three schools in the district, LaMoille High School, Allen Junior High and Van Orin Elementary. Projects will include bleacher work and cement work, updating science labs at the junior high and high school, and getting new furniture and classroom white boards. The remaining $200,000 will be used to equip and provide textbooks, furniture, professional development, technology and other items as part of the Academy for all three schools, Espinoza said.

The bottom line

The goal for the LaMoille School District is to better prepare students for the next step up; to enhance the technology and professional develop teacher training; and increase graduation rates, Espinoza said, adding the school district isn’t here to make money but to raise enough money to see that LaMoille students and staff get what they need.

“We know that with an enhanced and more up-to-date focus on learning, as well as enhanced surrounds and new equipment, the elementary students will have a much better chance at succeeding in middle school and finally at our high school,” Espinoza said. “This success will continue with them into college and/or the work force. The Academy’s goal is to give our students life skills that they will never stop using.”

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