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  • Megann Horstead

Officials clash over idea of introducing daycare service

The Kirby School District 140 Board of Education presented the survey results from an inquiry seeking employee input on the idea of introducing a daycare.

Assistant Superintendent Shawn Olson said there is an interest.

In the survey, 298 out of approximately 400 staff members responded. Roughly 24 percent of the population, or 70 employees, stated they have children of daycare age.

The survey went on to identify 57 staff members who expressed interest in the idea of D140 providing a daycare service to them in-district for an out-of-pocket cost.

Olson said they received a “better than average” response to the survey.

The district has received preliminary information from Tria Architecture outlining what it would entail to introduce a daycare. Requirements include building a fenced in play area adjacent to a classroom with an outside door, installing a bathroom and other items.

“Is it necessary for us to do this in-house?” asked board member Deborah Kowalski. “Can we just go talk to Bobbie Noonan’s [Child Care,] and ask them if they can just give them a discount?”

A number of districts in the area have already weighed in the prospect of establishing the service to accommodate employees with children.

Board member Thomas Martelli said the district merely surveyed employees to gauge whether or not to offer daycare.

“We spent no money or anything,” he said.

Kowalski begged to differ and said she will not support the venture.

“You guys are already talking about bathrooms,” she said. “What I’m saying is put on the question of let’s make a deal with Bobbie Noonan’s [Child Care.] They already have the infrastructure already there. Is it an option, or is not an option?”

Martelli sought to lessen the concern raised.

“Nothing’s in the motion,” he said. “We’re not breaking ground; we’re not doing anything.”

At a recent meeting, officials came to a consensus to explore the idea.

To date, D140 has obtained basic information from Tria Architecture outlining what they’ve done when completing projects of this type in the past. No billable hours have been generated.

If the idea of introducing a daycare were advanced, taxpayers would be on the hook for paying the initial costs to set it up.

Kowalski referenced an idea raised during a previous discussion on the matter that D140 may also need to look into bringing in a management company to oversee the daycare and acquiring insurance to address liability.

Martelli said the idea is still so preliminary at this point, they don’t know what it would take.

D140 cannot take action to set up the daycare without the Board of Education’s vote.

“If the taxpayers are paying for this, I think they need to have a say on it,” Kowalski said. “Why can’t we survey them, as well?”

Martelli said the district would do that and hold public meetings before moving further.

The district intends to present general information on what it would take to introduce a daycare at the board’s Oct. 19 meeting.

School board adopts fiscal year 2018 budget

Also at the meeting, officials decided to adopt the district’s fiscal year 2017-2018 budget.

A public hearing was held prior to the school board’s vote. At that point, no one provided comment.

The budget, as approved, is unbalanced, but a deficit reduction plan is not warranted at this time.

“We’re spending our reserves,” said Michael Andreshak, director of business services. “We have construction projects.”

A school board is typically required to submit a deficit reduction plan when the district’s operating funds are equal to or greater than one-third of its ending fund balance.

A deficit valued at $3,679,773 is reflected in the district’s education fund. Also of note, the operations and maintenance funds shows a $279,330 deficit following a transfers in of $4,500,000 out of the transportation fund. Typically, those monies are transferred in to the district’s education fund.

D140 does not have any outstanding debts, and the debt service fund reflects that.

“We feel that spending the reserves [to keep] the buildings up to date is good for the kids and the district,” Andreshak said, referring to the way D140 pays for improvement projects.

The school district has a plan in place in the event unexpected expenditures become necessary.

“Our reserves are also for unforeseen expenses,” Andreshak said.

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