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  • Megann Horstead

Fairmont District 89 Board of Education: District waiting on tax revenue, State funding payments

Fairmont School District 89 is waiting for legislators in Springfield to issue payments for tax revenue and State of Illinois funding for the 2016-2017 academic year.

School officials were presented with an update on the district’s financial standing at their Feb. 15 meeting. Director of Finance and Operations Dr. Sheila Johnson said constituents are in good hands from what she can tell.

For fiscal year 2015, a tax revenue report current as of Jan. 31 shows that the state owes $1,512,513.56. Another report on State of Illinois funding indicates that the school district is owed $1,081,717.74.

Board member Joseph Dalpiaz raised a question concerning the level at which the district can expect to receive its funding, compared to previous years.

“The balances that are due, is this pretty typical in terms of percentage?” he asked. “We received a little over 40 percent of what’s due state aid-wise.”

The funding is in line with what the district has been receiving in recent years, Johnson said.

“I went and looked at last year, and we’re on target for receiving the funds for the same timing,” she said. “In May of 2016, we received a little over $300,000 in tax money and in June, a little over a million dollars in tax revenue.”

Board member Louis Spoonhour questioned if the state’s financial woes should raise concern for school district officials as they look toward the future.

“[Looking at] the budget impasse and whether they’re going to freeze taxes and all that, we still don’t know anything further where we’re at other than we’re supposed to be safe, right?”

Johnson said she understands Spoonhour’s concern, but it is a safe assumption to say the school district expects to receive payment eventually.

“We can say that to date schools we’re very blessed that’s one of the entities that they’ve funded at the level, but there are conversations on the table that that may change,” she said. “But right now, we are scheduled to be fully funded for the year.”

Fairmont to hold classes on Casmir Pulaski Day

Also at that meeting, the board moved to approve March 6-- Casmir Pulaski Day—to serve as a make-up day for Dec. 9, 2016, at which time school district officials noted a gas leak and held no classes.

Board Vice-President Richard Myers and board member Jeremy Burns were absent.

To spread the message, school district officials will do an all call, send notes home to parents and create a website posting. Interim superintendent Dr. Lela Bridges explained the rationale for the board’s decision.

“The reason why we’re bringing it to you, I met with the teacher leadership, and they said this way unless we have another snow day, or bad weather day, we will end the school year prior to Memorial Day,” she said.

Though Casmir Pulaski Day is an official holiday that 12-month employees can receive as a day off, Bridges said the district will need to make sure teachers are on hand.

“We may have to look at a compensatory day because we will need our staff here to operate,” she said.

Board approves contract for superintendent search firm

The board agreed to award a contract in the amount of $6,400 to the Illinois Association of School Boards to conduct a search for a new superintendent. The position was vacated last year when Sonya Whittaker resigned.

“I’m here as the interim,” Bridges said. “They’re looking for a replacement.”

A profile is to be conducted to determine what are the district’s needs for a superintendent, and the Illinois Association of School Boards will hold a search.

The anticipated start date for the new hire is set for July 2017.

“Even though it’s the Illinois Association of School Boards, they can reach outside of the state,” Bridges said.

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