Lemont Patch is now accepting letters to the editor, which will be posted on the site weekly.
The following was submitted by District 113A Board Member Al Malley. The letter reflects his individual views, and does not represent the board or school district as a whole.
If you're interesting in submitting a letter, e-mail Lemont Patch Editor Amanda Luevano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Last month we directed the administration to begin discussions with the Illinois State Board of Education to change our staffing plan and to reestablish a working cash fund. This would also address concerns ISBE had regarding high class size and an “ambitious recovery plan.”
We received a response from ISBE requesting further information. In addition to this request, they noted that we are once again seeking significant changes to the plan just approved in January. They went on to say that if we are going to keep changing plans, perhaps we should consider asking for an FOP. I am not in favor of an FOP nor am I proposing continual revisions to the financial plan.
As a board, we have been asked to approve three revisions to the original 2010 plan. We were never asked to prioritize expenditures, nor were we given an opportunity to provide any input.
I questioned why we couldn’t continue to follow the existing plan and only provide updates. Each time I was told it was ISBE requesting the changes. We now know that wasn’t entirely true.
The plan we now follow has a surplus of almost $3,000,000. That is 13 percent of our operating budget. This was an increase of $800,000 from the original plan. Next year it is expected to increase to $3,500,000. These increases were of our own choosing!
The road to insolvency occurred over many years where children received more resources than was sustainable. We are on a path to where tomorrow’s children will receive the resources they are entitled to, but what about today’s children? Don’t they deserve better?
To be fair, others believe we should continue to build reserves, and then petition the state to remove us from their oversight first. This is a worthy goal which I share. However, we can accomplish both. We will still end the next year on target. This will occur whether we hire the extra teachers or not.
We are anticipating the need for one more borrowing in October. This should be the final round for our district. In other words, the plan(s) have worked to reduce reliance on loans. No one is disputing this.
In contrast, no one is disputing that the plan(s) had intangible costs. We have high class sizes. We have divested many programs, lost good employees and deferred many maintenance items.
Some may point to our test scores. While we should celebrate success, we need to realize it is a testament to our teachers, staff and parents. We can’t expect it to continue, at least not under these conditions.
At this point, the administration has been directed to provide the answers to ISBE. We should wait for their response, and if they agree, we should move ahead. If they disagree, well…we have the plan.
District 113A Board Member