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Minooka High School board approves budget plan

MINOOKA – With property taxes to the district decreasing and expenses continuing to rise, the Minooka High School board approved Thursday a plan to bring finances into a better place.

The Minooka Community High School District 111 board approved an expenditure reduction and revenue increasing plan to bring the district's finances into a better balance. 

No teacher or staff positions were cut in the final plan, although a full-time staff member will not replace current full-time athletic trainer Bob Flynn when he retires this month. Rather, Flynn will return as a part-time athletic trainer, and the district will rely more heavily on the outside firm, ATI, to work with student athletes.

Superintendent Jim Colyott said this move will increase the total hours students will spend with trainers, while saving the district about $40,000 a year.

The entire plan is estimated to save the district $542,545 in the upcoming fiscal year, with $334,545 of expenditure reductions and $208,000 in revenue increases.

A few of the spending reductions had already been approved and put in place, such as saving $75,000 a year by hiring new bus drivers to reduce overtime costs, and saving $12,000 by ensuring qualified insurance claims are paid.

Raising student registration fees by $10 per student, also approved in a recent board meeting, will add another $22,000 to the coffer, and increasing student parking fees by $5 will add another $3,000.

New to the plan is the creation of a student activity and athletic fee of $30 for every student. The charge is the same whether a student participates in no activities or sports, or if they are in several.

According to finance committee chairwoman Karen Buchanan, the school board has been considering instituting the fees for several years. Most other high school districts have them, she said, as well as many junior high schools. Previously, no fees were charged for activities or sports.

“This is a small step toward student funding of activities and sports,” Buchanan said after the meeting. “We have had many conversations about this.”

The board considered paying fees per sport and activity, but this flat fee, she said, would impact students and their families the least and may even encourage them to participate in more clubs and sports than if the fees were per activity.

Colyott said the total costs for the district’s activities and sports is about $700,000. The new fees will take an estimated $66,000 off that cost.

Also included in the plan is a measure to close South Campus during the summer, which is estimated to save $22,500. Only the superintendent’s office will remain open, and a portion of the building for summer athletic camps.

A reduction of about $12,000 will be achieved by employing more outside substitute teachers, Colyott said. When staff teachers cover a block for an absent teacher, the district pays $60, he said. The fee for hiring an outside substitute for an entire day of four blocks is $120 - a reduction of 50 percent.

Other savings will be achieved by reducing costs of academic field trips, reducing staff hours for weekend detentions and reducing the amount of money spent on supplies for numerous departments.

Six measures to increase revenue were approved, including a $3 fee for more than two transcript requests. Previously, there were no fees for extra transcripts.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, government teacher and union president Dennis Grosskopf mentioned a referendum may be necessary to keep programs and staff at current levels. If property taxes continue to decline, he said, there will need to be some extra income to the district.

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