Lincoln-Douglas Elementary School was open to tours prior to the August 23rd Board meeting. A large crowd turned out to explore the large, open hallways, brightly colored decor, and state-of-the-art classrooms and learning areas. This is the first of five new elementary schools to be opened over the next two years. A dedication ceremony was also held. Everyone involved in the referendum three years ago through the building projects needs to proud of this school, themselves and this community. Board President Ali said, “Whether you are a parent, student, employee, taxpayer or Board member, everything going on in District 172 is to benefit kids and benefit the community. It’s a good day to be a Blue Devil.”
Mike Klingner, representing the Super 70’s Bash, presented a check to QPS Foundation for $7,070.70. The event held this summer was a reunion for QHS graduates who attended QHS at the Baldwin building in the 1970’s. Reunion organizers asked that the money be used for landscaping at the new K-5 buildings. Large stone plaques were also donated for the landscaping areas of each school.
Although state legislators passed a budget last month, a new funding formula has not been approved and Illinois schools have not received payments. The State currently owes QPS $1 million in General State Aid and over $2.9 million in categorical payments from last year. Categoricals include transportation, special education personnel and transportation, and Early Childhood Programs. If a new formula is not approved soon, it will have a critical impact to district operations. Ryan Whicker, Chief of Business Operations, is putting together a plan to eliminate all non-essential or low priority purchases in order to stretch available funds. The district is currently running on funding provided through property taxes but those funds will only last through October. Illinois legislative leaders continue to negotiate and we hope an agreement on the funding formula can be reached soon.
Despite funding unknowns, a tentative 2017-2018 budget is required to be prepared and presented to the Board in August and approved by September 30. Mr. Whicker explained that the tentative budget was prepared with a conservative approach in regards to revenues and expenditures. He said the assumptions for the tentative budget include that a General State Aid Funding Formula is passed and results in a $300k increase to the district, the district receives the equivalent of a full year’s worth of state mandated categorical payments, and a 2.4% increase in salaries in exchange for $400k of health insurance premiums to be absorbed by employees. The district has made reductions of approximately $1million in expenditures by not replacing two Administrative positions, reducing summer custodial services, shifting eligible legal and insurance expenditures to the Tort Fund, eliminating software programs, and other personnel reductions due to reorganizations. Mr. Whicker indicated that the budget projects a deficit of approximately $550k in the district’s operating funds.
The Board approved a fund raising opportunity with assistance from the QPS Foundation to use pieces of pink granite salvaged from window frame and door areas of the recently demolished Baldwin North. The granite pieces would be engraved with names of individuals making a contribution to the Building Fund. There are also eight large pieces of granite that will be placed at QHS, QJHS, five elementary schools and Early Childhood, individually engraved for each school. Marc Arntzen, of Gem City Memorials, will be storing the granite and donating his services for the large pieces.