School District Discusses Cost Savings14:14 PM December 03, 2018
Finding ways to cut costs without impacting the quality of education is the challenge that the PLT#3 School District Board of Education is currently tackling. Board president James Melton discussed some of the suggestions made by the recently formed cost savings committee during the November meeting. One of the biggest questions the committee faces is whether to keep the district's Pre-K program. The continuation of the program, despite its current lack of state funding, seemed to be a top priority of the group. One way to infuse money into the Pre-K program would be to create a blended Pre-K program, which would allow students who are currently receiving services outside the district from Bi-County at a cost to the district of approximately $9,000 per student, to be able to stay in the district. Melton said the current staff is certified to teach special education students and it would be a boost to the district’s resume to have a blended program.
Melton also reported that the other idea strongly being considered by the committee is to move the district’s population to attendance centers. This would allow the district some flexibility in determining the number of sections of each grade level which would lead to cost savings by a reduction in staff. Currently the district has Pre-K thru third grade classes in both Prophetstown and Tampico Elementary Schools, with all fourth and fifth grade students attending in Tampico. The biggest step in this process would be to agree on class size. The board asked Superintendent Colmone to put together a presentation to look at various scenarios at the December meeting.
Several other suggestions have also been discussed by the committee including reducing the number of district buildings, considering out of district transportation companies, eliminating field trips, and increasing athletic fees. Discussion on these and other ideas will continue.The committee is tasked with trying to save $600,000 in the budget.
In other action the board approved a change in how the grading scale used for AP and Sauk Valley Community College courses will be reconciled with the district's grade scale. This change will become effective for the spring semester.
A service learning opportunity course at the high school was approved to begin in the spring semester. It allows students to receive credit for community service including mentoring, office assistance, classroom aides, etc. The course will become part of the career training education program led by teacher Sara Conner.
Principal Keith Stewart spoke about establishing an alternate classroom that would serve primarily middle school students. The classroom would allow students to normally would be attending out of district facilities for various reasons to continue to be served in the district. The consensus was to have Stewart continue to investigate resources needed to start such a program.
In addition to their written monthly reports the building principals added a few comments on activities at their buildings.
Athletic Director Mark Lofgren
- Reported that winter sports are underway, and the students and staff are involved in helping to revise the behavior rewards programs, student handbooks, athletic handbooks and course guides.
- The campus is developing a new set of core values; pride, respect, integrity, diversity, and excellence which will be emphasized in daily activities.
Campus Principal Keith Stewart
- Pleased with the turnout for parent-teacher conferences at both middle school and high school levels. Board President James Melton asked Stuart to closely track the amount of parent involvement in the conferences and to perhaps look at a different approach for spring conferences which have been poorly attended in the past.
- Thanks to Sarah Naftzger for her diligent work producing the Veterans Day programs at both grade schools and 6-12 campus.
Principal Justin Hovey
- Pleased with the turnout for the Veterans Day program and excited about starting a new tradition of helping fund a local veteran’s trip on the Quad City Honor Flight.
- The school also recently held a “Fall Ball” organized by the Parent For Students group which was very successful and hopefully will continue in the future.
- Met on December 13 agreed to sustain the Pre-K program
- Discussed the concept of attendance centers
- would consider the non-reimbursement for Sauk Valley Community College dual credit courses.
- Discussed the idea of establishing an alternate education classroom which would reduce the number of students who attend off-campus Bi-County programs.
- Discuss compensation for a school resource officer
- Met on November 16
- Committee agreed to sustain the Pre-K program
- Discussed the idea of a blended Pre-K program which would include a special education section
- Would like to give priority to four-year-olds in the Pre-K program
- Agreed to continue to pursue the idea of attendance centers
- Not in favor of restricting the number of students taking courses at the Whiteside Area Career Center
- Discussed the possibility of the SRO teaching some lessons on good choices and civic responsibilities.
- Reviewed changes to the PHS course catalog and Sauk Valley Community College course grade scale
EP Board of Control
Board member Kim Purvis asked about the attendance of the members and participation at the board of control meetings. Melton who is a member of the BOC told her Erie High School Principal Tim McConnell has not been at the past several meetings. Bruce Franks also a member of the BOC added that Erie has not provided someone to record minutes as they had agreed to do when meetings are held in their district. Purvis asked what was being done to ensure that the current agreement is being followed. Melton said concerns have been voiced at the board level in hopes that will improve the situation. Melton added, “They want to work with us, but it is clear they don’t take this as seriously as we do.” Purvis commented that she is excited so far about what she has seen with the newly co-op activities but that, “If we want this to work it’s got to be a true co-op from the top down, all players at the table all the time.”
A complete story on the monthly BOC meeting can be found HERE
- On November 14 district staff participated in the first of two days of ALICE training, which is an alternative method to deal with an active shooter situation emphasizing response and escape.
- Met with the administration from Sauk Valley Community College to discuss the possibility of holding courses at area high schools
- a new phone system will be installed in district buildings over the holiday break.
- Stichter Excavating will be doing a partial demolition of the tennis court surface as well as the batting cages.
Additionaly Colmone, and the building principals gave their input on the ISBE district report card. The complete story can be found HERE
The board approved a new policy concerning alternative high school diplomas which, according to principal Keith Stewart, will be used, “in rare and extenuating circumstances,” to help some students who otherwise would not receive a diploma. The diploma would only be issued if the student has completed eight semesters of school and completed the minimum requirements as levied by the state.
Kim Purvis acknowledge district parent Traci Sandrock for organizing and “almost single-handedly” putting on a craft show to benefit the district music programs. Purvis said Sandrock did a tremendous amount of work to pull off the event which was extremely well done.
The board approved the employment of Pat Harrison as a bus driver.
The board’s next meeting will be Monday, December 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the district office.