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Saratoga looking at waiver for out-of-district children

MORRIS – Some teachers at Saratoga School District 60C are interested in exploring the possibility of their out-of-district children attending the school where they teach.

The hope was to include that in teacher contract negotiations, but it was discovered the district needs a waiver from the Illinois General Assembly to make it happen. Teachers now are requesting the school board consider applying for the waiver.

A Building and Finance Advisory Committee meeting – made up of board members, community members, teachers and administration – was held Tuesday where the topic was discussed.

Vince Zomboracz, an eighth-grade teacher and part of the negotiation team, told the committee getting the waiver would allow his daughter, as well as the children of other teachers, to attend school where their parents work without having to pay an out-of-district fee of $7,030, the cost per student at Saratoga.

“If it went through now, they wouldn’t be allowed to attend until January 2016,” he said. “I’ve made the decision to move to the district, but I’ve come to the meeting to keep the line of communication open.”

He said he trusts the staff and would love for his daughter to attend Saratoga.

Seven teachers expressed interest, Zomboracz said, and some teachers had not thought about it before it started being discussed.

Steven Ross, a sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade history teacher, also supports the waiver.

“The staff here is phenomenal,” Ross said. “I currently reside outside of the district and I’ve had issues at my children’s current district with the district not living up to their end.”

He said he’d like to be more involved in extracurricular activities at the school, but without his children there it’s difficult. His family may move due to his wife’s employment, and having the kids at the school he teaches would provide stability for them.

“It’s been put on the agenda twice at the board level with no follow through,” Superintendent Kathy Perry said.

Perry said the money the teachers pay in their property taxes would remain in the school district where live in; however, if the children were enrolled at Saratoga, the state aid would go to Saratoga, as they would be in the head count for the district that state aid is based on.

“We looked into whether we could waive the tuition or offer a reduced tuition at the local level and the answer is no,” she said. “It’s against the code to waive without a waiver in place.”

Members of the committee asked what employees would be allowed to enroll their students and how many students this would bring to the district. Perry said other districts have worded the waiver to include all faculty and staff, others just full-time staff.

Zomboracz said he thought there would be about 15 children added if the waiver was in place now.

“The wording would have to be very clear,” board member Tracy Lawyer said.

Community member Fred Bourdelais said that perhaps the district could offer a sliding scale for tuition based on successful years of service at the district.

“That’s an incentive to stay on as a teacher,” he said.

The committee agreed it should be an informational item on the next board meeting agenda, so members can continue to discuss it.

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