A deficit is anticipated for the Fairmont School District 89 Board of Education in the fiscal year 2018 annual comprehensive budget, which officials discussed at their April 11 Committee of the Whole meeting.
“We have a lot of work to do on that budget because currently it’s not balanced, so I’m not going to be interested in anything but a balanced budget,” board member Joseph Dalpiaz said. “We’re going to have to balance our expenditures with our income, and I’m sure Dr. Bridges is [getting together] with the finance committee to find places to make sure we’re in balance.”
The district’s monthly budget to actual report was showing a deficit of over $700,000. Director of Finance and Operations Dr. Sheila Johnson said a coding issue resulted in the inflation of the school district’s deficit.
“The error has been corrected to show the actual approved budget to a little over a $200,000 deficit,” she said, noting that is what the district anticipated.
With the first look at the budget, there are a number of item areas the school district intends to address including technology, infrastructure, staffing and facilities maintenance needs.
Fairmont officials will continue working on the budget at their May 1 meeting.
Extending Summer Bridge program to D89 students
Also at that meeting, the Fairmont School District 89 Board of Education discussed the prospect of entering into a new partnership to help foster student success in transitioning to high school.
Officials are working with its feeder district, Lockport Township High School District 205, to write a grant application to pay for a six-week summer program.
Each elementary school district will identify a group of students, for which program enrollment numbers have yet to be determined, to put structures in place to support their transition.
“Sometimes they run into difficulty,” Bridges said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for District 89. They already have a program, but this is an addition. So, [Principal] Mrs. [ZaRita] Beal and I are working with the district to make that we get our data in, make suggestions.”
The partnership aims to ensure that students are prepared for the academic and social challenges raised in their high school careers.
“They were looking at allocating five [students] per district,” Bridges said. “There may be other programs. That’s just this particular program. They want the group to remain small, but there are other programs that they have for students going into high school.”
Board member Jeremy Burns said his goal is to avoid seeing students who come from D89 fail.
“That’s a big problem,” he said.
Bridges noted that Fairmont is not alone in this and said she recognizes all the feeder schools have expressed similar concerns.
“They’re trying to come up with some kind of solution,” she said.
Bridges said she doesn’t know the district’s history with respect to student completion of programs of this type. Some districts will hold the eighth-grade diploma until students show proof they’ve completed the Summer Bridge program.
Bridges stressed that such an initiative will not hold students back, and wanted to gauge the board’s interest in adopting this measure for Fairmont.
This matter will not require board action, but a consensus is warranted to allow the superintendent to put together procedures.
“It seems to work in other districts,” Bridges said.