On the Books: February 28, 2017

On the Books News Image

On the Books provides a recap of the Sycamore Community School District 427 Board of Education meeting  that occurred on Tuesday, February 28, 2017. The Agenda and all supporting documents from this meeting and minutes from previous meetings, can be viewed through BoardDocs. If you would like to receive a notification for when On the Books is ready for viewing, please sign-up for our District Communications

Chief Financial Officer’s Report

Nicole Stuckert, Chief Financial Officer, presented the Operations and Maintenance Budget to the Board of Education. Projects included in the budget for FY18 are repairs to some of the stair railings at West Elementary School as well as repairing the gym wall at South Prairie Elementary School due to water infiltration from strong storms/winds. In addition, the ventilation system in the welding shop at Sycamore High School needs to upgraded, as the main fan motor is failing. The system is original to when the welding shop was added at the High School. Ms. Stuckert stated to the Board, “We have been fortunate enough to bring the welding program back to the school district.  Unfortunately, since the shop sat dormant for years, we’re looking at some improvements that need to be done.” In addition, work needs to be completed on the District’s bus garage and maintenance shop. This includes repair to the crumpling exterior walls due moisture infiltration and freezing, and include a crumbling wall within the pit inside the bus garage that allows the District’s bus mechanics to work on the District’s fleet of vehicles. The proposed Operations and Maintenance Budget will have a 2% increase over FY17.

Transportation Update

The Board of Education received an update on discussions of changes to the District’s transportation program. Out of the District’s 2,386 eligible bus riders, 50.6% of them ride the bus. Over the past 5 years, the district has collected $15,000-$20,000 a year in it’s “Pay to Ride” Program. This program allowed parents to pay for students to ride the bus who live within the 1.5 mile range of their school and to which the District is not required to provide bus transportation.  This year the District had 69 “Pay to Ride” students, and administration has recommended not continuing with the program, as it does not pay for itself and causes an increase in ride times for students. In addition, District Administration recommends maintaining the current structure for student start times, and creating a task force consisting of parents, staff, and students to examine schedules and possible changes to start times for the 2018-2019 school year. The task force will begin its work in May 2017, and provide recommendations to the Board of Education by December 2017. Beginning in 2017-2018 school year, eligible bus riders will only be transported to and from their assigned home bus stop.

Student Fees – First Reading

Student Fees for the 2017-2018 school year were presented to the Board of Education. Under the proposal, Athletic Fees would increase from $100 to $125, with the the family cap changing from $250 to $310. Additionally, tuition cost for the Little Spartans Learning Center was added to the list of fees, and the “Pay to Ride” program as well as and fees associated with Family and Consumer Science classes were eliminated. These will be brought back for a second reading at the Board of Education’s next meeting on March 14, 2017.

Building Use Fees

District Administration recommended no changes in Building Use Fees for FY18. The Board waived the first reading and approved Building Use Fees as presented.

Approval of Reduction in Force Proposal

Superintendent of Schools, Kathy Countryman, and Chief Financial Officer, Nicole Stuckert,  recapped with the Board of Education the proposed Reduction in Force Budget Proposal. The proposal includes reductions in licensed teaching positions, professional educator licensed related services and student support, support team, support services, extended contracts, and extracurricular positions. Board President Jim Dombek stated, “Our hands are somewhat tied because the only way the District can raise revenue is through property taxes, and they have been capped and could be frozen in the near future. We only have one funding source.” The Board of Education voted and approved the Reduction in Force Proposal as presented.  

Intergovernmental Agreement – Public and Educational Access Channel

The City of Sycamore approved the Intergovernmental Agreement for the District to have access to the City’s Public Access Channel during their February 6, 2017 meeting. This channel will enhance the learning experience for the District’s students and will serve as another communications tool for the District with the community. The Board of Education voted to waive the first reading and voted to approve the Intergovernmental Agreement between the District and the City of Sycamore.