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Minooka High preparing deficit-reduction plan

Details yet to be determined, but discussions are beginning

MINOOKA — Minooka Community High School's Board of Education has started the process of developing a $2 million deficit-reduction plan.

What that means at this time hasn’t been determined. But board members began sharing thoughts and ideas in executive session following last night’s regular board meeting.

The drop in EAV over the last few years, resulting in less revenue for the district, increasing expenses typical to every school district and increasing enrollment are factors that could create a deficit spending situation, according to Superintendent Jim Colyott.

Projections by PMA Financial Network in December indicate the district could be operating in the red by about $3 million by fiscal year 2013.

“We do have excellent fund balances in this district,” Colyott said. “The board and administration are working to devise a plan to minimize deficit spending and make sure we operate on those reserves carefully.”

EPA Grant

District 111 is applying for an Environmental Protection Agency grant that will help save money and employee time. Currently, three or four employees – mechanics and bus drivers — are needed to arrive at 4 a.m. on school days to begin warming up diesel buses. It takes over an hour of idling for the vehicles to warm up, wasting fuel and polluting the air, Business Manager Todd Drafall said.

The EPA grant of $120,000 will equip 24 to 30 buses with core heaters that will automatically heat the engine’s core during the cold weather, eliminating the need for employees to arrive early to do the job.

“When drivers come in, the diesel (buses) will be ready to go,” Drafall said.

Once the grant has been received, bids will be accepted for the work.

The district has 38 buses, the remaining of which are gas engines that do not need to be warmed up.

Grading scale to be reviewed

The policy committee will take a look at the district’s grading scale.

Channahon residents Kelly and Chuck Hiscock, who have two children in the district, asked the board to consider changing the grading scale to a 10-point system used by many other school districts. The district currently uses a 7-point scale.

Chuck Hiscock, associate principal at North High School in Downers Grove, said research shows that the 10-point system is the preferred method.

“Minooka is competing against top 10 schools,” Kelly Hiscock said. “It puts our kids at a disadvantage.”

Board president Chris Kobe invited the Hiscocks to attend a policy committee meeting to discuss the grading scale.

“We can certainly talk about this in policy (committee),” Kobe said. “You are not the first parent who has approached me about this.”

Board member Debra Warning asked Hiscock to provide research he mentioned so the committee could look at it prior to the meeting.

Students could be tested for heart problems

The Hiscocks also asked the board to consider having students tested for heart problems using AEDs, which would be performed by medical personnel.

They first approached the board last October, following the death of Minooka High School senior Allison Rivera of a heart anomaly.

A team out of Good Samaritan Hospital goes to schools and looks for obvious signs of abnormalities, Chuck Hiscock said.

“Eighty percent of kids from Downers Grove South and North have gone through the testing,” he said.

Two students at North and five at South were identified with problems, some required surgery as a result.

“I would like us to keep it local,” said Warning, suggesting a cardiology group out of Morris.

Kobe said the board is preparing to set things in motion for the next school year.

“This would be a good thing to look into at that time,” Kobe said.

Students would need parental approval before being tested, Hiscock said.

School debit card available

Minooka High School now has its team logo on a debit card, just like college and professional teams.

The Minooka Indians debit card is available through Citizens First National Bank in Minooka.

“It’s official and moving,” said Dave DiLorenzo, community relations director for the district. “Actually it’s a lot more students who are excited about the cards.”

The district gets a $5 reward each time a Minooka Indians’ debit card is opened.

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