MANLIUS — Drastic improvements have been made to the Bureau Valley School District’s budget within the last year.
It was once an uncertainty of whether or not BV would be able to pay its bills two years in the future. In 2012, the board was forced to sell nearly $3 million in bonds and began figuring how they could make the money last three years into the future, which is when they would be able to sell more bonds to fulfill the financial needs.
Deep cuts were made during the last year, such as reducing the special education program, getting rid of the industrial arts and home economics classes, phasing out the German language program and making changes to the staff insurance coverage. Also, the board found ways to increase their revenue. The biggest changes were the district’s increased equalized assessed valuation and the decision to raise students’ registration and book fees.
With these changes, the board was able to keep from having to dip into the bond money as much as they had projected, and a feeling of relief began to slowly develop throughout the year.
At Monday night’s board meeting, Interim Superintendent Dennis Thompson spoke about his satisfaction with the current district budget. He said if things continue to go as they have, the bond money could last the district four years, and maybe even a little longer than that.
While the board had recently anticipated transferring $857,000 to the education fund, Thompson said only $500,000 would have to be transferred to the fund.
“That’s huge from my perspective of doing these budgets,” he said.
He said the longer they are able to string out the bond monies, the more time they can give the state a chance to recover.
“The point is, in school funding, we’ve taken a big hit with not getting what we expected,” he said. “We’d like to get back to the point where we can count on funding. When we’d get general state aid calculations, we used to get 100 or 99.9 percent back on funding, and now we’re getting it at 89 percent, and it’s tough to budget when you don’t know what you’ll get.”
The board placed their 2013-14 proposed amended budget on display; set a budget hearing at 6:45 p.m. June 23; and place the amended budget on the June 23 school board meeting agenda.
Concerned parent addresses the board
Also at Monday’s meeting, Kristina Church, a parent of a BV student, read a letter to the board expressing her concerns about a recent incident that took place at the school.
According to her letter, on April 28, the school allowed a police officer to question her student and other students without parental knowledge and the proper support of the students’ rights.
She read policy codes from the Illinois Association of School Boards, saying BV broke policy on April 28.
According to her findings, interviews with police are to be conducted in a private setting. If a parent/guardian is absent, then a principal accompanied with another adult witness should be present during the interview.
Also, she stated that all interviews with minor students are not permitted without a parent/guardian’s permission, unless a legal process is presented or an emergency situation occurs. During such an instance, the principal is to contact the parent/guardian and inform them that the student is subject to an interview.
In her letter, Church confronted the school board’s notion that too much was going on that day to follow policy.
If students do not follow policy in the student handbook, they must face the consequences, Church said. How are they going to learn from this instance when a staff member broke policy and did not have to face the consequences, she pointed out.
Following her letter, board President Rick Cernovich stated the school board has met with Church several times on the matter, which is currently being investigated. He said the school board takes the rights and safety of students very seriously and will take measures to make sure they are protected.
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