By Steve Robinson | March 1, 2019 - 10:57 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – What money amounts the State has sent Normal-based Unit 5 School District has not changed, according to an update provided district Board members during their regularly-scheduled meeting at district headquarters Feb. 27.

Marty Hickman, business manager for the district, explained the district has received all current fiscal year payments that were anticipated for FY 2019. He added that in terms of any incoming Federal revenue Unit 5 was going to receive from Washington, there was a slight decrease in terms of dollars received.

During a brief presentation to Board members, Hickman also provided an update on the budget, covering between now and the end of the current fiscal year which ends June 30. In March, he said, the district anticipates receiving reports back from McLean County confirming what property tax dollars the district will receive.

Around May or June, Hickman said, the district will receive the first half of the money incoming from 2018 tax levy. He reported that, in terms of revenue assumptions before money starts coming in, real estate earned assessed valuation of property in the Town of Normal is expected to increase by .5 percent for levy year 2018.

Touting a $30,000 surplus in the district’s operations and maintenance budget, Hickman explained the majority of the revenue in that budget is from local property tax dollars. He cautioned utility costs remain the largest risk to that particular fund, and reminded energy conservation projects, such as updating heating and cooling systems, help hold off such risks.

Hickman said the district transportation fund has a “small surplus” currently, and that the district is due three more payments from the State to put into that fund totaling $4.5 million. He added increases in salary and benefits so that the district can be more competitive in hiring teachers will be an issue which will affect how the district’s education fund dollars will get spent.

Superintendent Addresses E-Learning: Severe winter weather used to mean a day home from school. But with the advent of Electronic Learning, or E-Learning, some school districts are sending kids home with work that can be done on home computers. Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent, addressed this subject in his comments to Board members. He started by saying the district has been watching the e-learning trend closely. He added students could access coursework either online or by having take-home packets.

He said e-learning means students would be in class one fewer day, and as a result, have “one less day in the classroom with a teacher, one less day having access to breakfast or lunch, and one less day interacting with their peers.” He added the district is concerned about how e-learning days would affect students who have learning issues and are therefore part of an Individualized Education Program, or IEP. Daniel told Board members he has distributed a memo to them concerning how E-Learning would need to work to benefit students with learning disabilities.

Board Approves 2019-20 School Year Calendar: Board members unanimously approved the school year calendar for the 2019-20 school year. But the calendar has had to be worked so that it could include two additional days which would be used for instructional purposes. That’s because public school funding in Illinois is now based on student enrollment rather than attendance. The 2019-20 school year will begin for students on Friday, Aug. 16. Graduations for both Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School will be held Saturday, May 23, 2020. Although not assigned as yet, homecoming dance dates are set for Sept. 21 and Oct. 5.

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