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Highlights of the September 17 Board of Education Meeting

Director of Finance and Business Operations Abe Singh summarized the 2018-2019 budget which is due to the tax extension office by September 28. The district’s final budget shows an overall deficit of approximately $3 million. The district’s operating fund revenues total $50,223,776 with expenditures budgeted at $52,449,717. The deficit is due primarily to the property tax prepayment that led to an excess revenue last year. As a result, this revenue will not be realized in fiscal year 2018-19. However, a deficit reduction plan is not required.

The district continues to operate in a fiscally conservative manner, and currently remains in a strong financial condition. It has not increased building level budgets in seven years, and is continuing this practice this year. Additional staffing needs continue to limit the ability to fund other areas of the budget, with most areas remaining flat. Technology is ever-changing, and it is difficult to determine what the budget may be for this in the coming years. The intent to grow the personalized learning environment will need to be modeled over the next year to determine if it is viable, sustainable, and expandable. Overall, the district feels confident that it has a budget that is addressing its students’ needs, and the financial needs of the district. During the Business Meeting, the Board of Education approved the budget.

Board of Education member Robin Cleek reported on a meeting that took place between Board of Education members, the Village of Vernon Hills and the Vernon Hills Park District. She said the board received lots of positive feedback regarding its plans. The organizations plan to meet one more time before the November election.

Interim Superintendent Mark Friedman provided an update on the Community Engagement Day that has been planned for September 24. This is a day in which executive search consultants will meet with numerous stakeholder groups, such as teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and PTO leaders, to learn what characteristics they would like to see in a future superintendent. A survey has been created to provide another way for stakeholders to provide input. The survey will remain open until October 4, 2018. These community engagement activities will help the consultants put together a profile that will drive the interview process. The goal is to name a new superintendent by winter break.

Board of Education member Wes Polen provided an update on the progress of the Referendum Subcommittee that met on September 11. They reviewed the content on the referendum website, future mailings, and meeting presentations. Information meetings have been scheduled for October 1, 9, 17 and the third week of October. Most of these meetings will take place at the schools where the space needs are the greatest.

Interim Superintendent Joe Porto introduced the referendum website, which is now live. He said this is a living, breathing website, and will change as we move forward. The heart and soul of the site are the four guiding questions: what are the needs, what is the plan, what is the financial impact, and what if the referendum doesn’t pass? Board members have a right to share information about the referendum with the community, but the information needs to be objective and not persuasive. The website is an important resource that will answer many questions.