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home : news : north central illinois   April 29, 2016

5/21/2013 9:35:00 AM
Princeton district proposes closing Tiskilwa school

Lee Strubinger
Princeton Bureau Chief

PRINCETON — The Princeton Elementary School Board will take action on closing Reagan Middle School in Tiskilwa during a regular board meeting July 15.
The mention of closure came from PES superintendent Tim Smith’s budget reduction plan during Monday’s PES board meeting. Smith said the district has been over-expending on its building fund and as a result the district is looking to reduce facilities.
“This would get the building fund back in the black,” he added. “Minimally, we’re looking at $75,000 savings, and that’s a conservative estimate.”
The bulk of that savings would come from the transportation fund, for which funding from the state is beginning to look uncertain. Shuttling students to the location comes with a cost. The building is about seven miles away.
“Tiskilwa is a nice building, probably the better building in our district,” Smith said. “But it’s the position of the building that makes it hard... We don’t know where the financial system is going to go.”
Board member Steve Bouslog said of the looming closure, “this is a monumental decision.”
There also were several measures regarding personnel as a part of the budget reduction plan that would increase class sizes as a result.
The superintendent said the end result, which is a conservative estimation again, would be $1,186,446 in savings in the education fund. Smith said the district would at least capture that amount, and he would like to save more. The ideal number to save, according to Smith, is $1.3 million.
In order to save that money, over the next three fiscal years the district would downsize by 12.5 certified staff-members and four noncertified staff. The district would capture the savings through retirements and not rehiring, as well as reduction in the number of teachers’ aides.
“The only chance we have to save money as a district is through personnel,” Smith said.
The reductions, as a result, would eliminate a lot of elective or nontraditional courses through the district.
“What’s sad about all of this is over the years we always talked about wanting to add other foreign languages,” Bouslog said. “Now, it isn’t going to happen.”
In other, yet related, board news, the district approved a tech fee to coincide with the textbook fee already in place. This is the first increase the board has made in 18 years, according to Smith. What will result is a personal device, like a tablet, will be the student’s to keep, giving the student an initiative to keep the device in good care.
“Our hands are tied because of PARCC assessments (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers),” Smith said. “We aren’t generating any revenue due to mandates.”
During fiscal year 2014, a $50 fee will be charged for kindergarten-eighth grade students. The following year, K-5, and 7-8 grades will be charged the $50 tech fee, with sixth-grade students having a $100 fee. In 2016, both sixth and seventh grades would pay a $100 fee while K-5 and eighth grades pay $50. Lastly, in 2017, K-5 grades would pay a $50 fee, and 6-8 would pay a $100 fee.
At the end of the student’s term in grade school, the student would get to keep the device as their own.
Smith estimates the money would generate $30,000 for the district in the first year, and $35,000 the second year. He said the district is trying to enhance the programs for the children, while funding takes a dive.
“Every decision is done with the student in mind,” board president Judson Lusher said. “That’s what we’ve done here tonight.”
-The board set May 31 as the last day for the 2012-13 calendar year.
- Approved Illinois Association of School Boards membership for $3,271
-The board approved retaining Hopkins and Associates as district auditor to prepare the annual financial report at a cost of $10,200. The number is an increase due to an increase in mandates the firm has to file through.
-Authorized the superintendent to seek milk and bread bids for fiscal year 2014.

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