Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Board has choice to make
School District can fund educational program or capital improvements

by Rob Ireland

April 28, 2011

Fontana — After crunching numbers, the village’s Elementary School found it was going to have extra money in its budget for this school year.

Now, the School Board members have a choice — they can make capital improvements in the building or add a new educational program called Compass.

After Monday’s meeting, School Board President Jennifer Keefe said the district needs to maintain the facility, but she was leaning toward spending the funds on programing.

“I would say obviously we look at student achievement first and that is our priority and that equals programming,” Keefe said.

Compass is a program that would complement the district’s existing Measurement of Academic Progress testing. Compass provides individualized educational tools in areas where students struggled on the MAP test.

District Administrator Mark Wenzel said he first heard of the Compass program in 2007, but determined it was too costly. Recently, Wenzel said representatives from the company have contacted him about purchasing it.

By happenstance, a parent, who teaches in the Burlington School District, asked the board if it was considering the Compass program during discussions about the MAP testing. The School Board asked Wenzel to determine the cost of purchasing the Compass programing.

School Board Clerk Joseph McHugh said, at this point, he is leaning toward spending the funds on the Compass program.

“We are lucky enough to have funds to invest in the facility or programming,” McHugh said.

Where are the funds coming from?

When the school developed its budget, it designated about $50,000 for maintenance repairs. However, the district didn’t need to tap into it by that much.

With the school’s fiscal year coming to a close, it has about $45,000 left in the fund. On Monday night, the School Board approved spending $12,000 out of that fund to replace an aging fire alarm system.

The school is under budget on several other line items, including unemployment compensation, legal fees, credit reimbursements and textbooks. Capital improvements needed at the school include replacing all worn carpets, which would cost about $54,000. The parking lot needs repairs and the school could invest funds toward replacing one of its two nearly 20 year old furnaces.

Teacher layoff

In other district news, on Monday night the School Board also approved a layoff notification for one teacher.

The layoff wasn’t due to budget cuts, but because there weren’t enough students to keep her. When the teacher was hired, she was informed her position may only last for one year.