State funding: The District is waiting for the General Assembly’s Joint Committee for Administrative Rules (J-CAR) to set the guidelines for the new calculation of adequacy formula to replace the old state funding scheme for schools. Until this is complete, the state will continue paying out from the old formula. Under this formula the state owes the District $2.904 million currently.
Audit: The external audit of district finances went well and there were no concerns from the auditor.
Transportation: With the District assumption of transportation services, we are conservatively set to save $640,000 this year or approximately $3,714 per day last year to this year actual costs for September. This figure would have been much higher if the District stayed with First Student and their projected rate increase of 7.5% over last year’s actual costs.
Tax levy: The District is reviewing the current tax levy, and it is expected to slightly decrease for the coming year. The decrease is the result of the District restructuring and refinancing to reduce the obligation on the debt. The levy on the Bond and Interest Fund cannot exceed the amount of the bond and interest held by the District by law so the refinancing of the debt legally necessitates a reduction of the levy. The District will continue to collect the maximum levy in funds where it is legally allowed such as the Education and Transportation Funds. See below for a further explanation of the District funds and levies.
Food Service: Sales of tray lunches are up 15% from last year for September and 14% for August. These increases also reflect a greater number of free and reduced lunches which provides more federal reimbursement to the District for food service. After consultation with the food service staff about adding a second window at the Snack Bar to improve efficiency and serve more students, it was decided to keep a single window and add a runner to fill orders to make the overall service process more efficient and to generate more revenue. The District also made changes to the federal commodities that are available to schools for lunches Under existing contracts between Sodexo and its vendors, last year food service was only able to use 40% of the federal commodities as other products had to be purchased under existing contracts. Under the District, food service can now use 100% of their allotted federal commodities which results in more margin on tray lunches. For more information on the federal commodities program and the foods included in it, check out the USDA website: (http://www.actionforhealthykids.org/storage/documents/parent-toolkit/partner-resource-pdfs/NANAcommodities.pdf)
Congressional Candidate Brendan Kelly Addresses the Membership of Belleville Federation of Teachers (AFT/IFT Local 434)
Former Belleville East alumnus, Navy veteran, and St. Clair County prosecutor Brendan Kelly, who is vying to replace Mike Bost in Congress, addressed members of Local 434 last week at the general membership meeting. Having attended Belleville schools growing up, Kelly expressed a fondness for public schools in the community, noting that he and his family are products of a great public education. Kelly claims the needs of the people are being ignored because politicians are too busy pandering to special interests at the expense of the people of Southern Illinois. He said he's running to put the people first, and that "changes require the support of . . . people involved in organized labor."
His support for people, public education, and organized labor earned him the endorsement of Belleville Federation of Teachers as the candidate to represent the best interests of our schools, our students, our families, and our members in District 12.
You can find out more about Brendan Kelly on his website.
Congratulations to Remi Williams and Adam Harbison, this year's winners of the one-thousand-dollar Secondary Education Scholarship!
We wish both of them the best in their future endeavors!
District Budget and Finances Meeting March 2017 (Boring but important.)
1. Bond Restructuring
The District will be doing a bond restructuring for the 2007 bonds. There is currently a $17.5 million balance on the bonds, and the restructuring will free up $1 million when it is complete. The District is currently working to pay off $3.5 million on working cash bonds. They may re-issue these for $2 million to have some cash balance protection.
If you are not sure what working cash bonds are, here is a simple explanation of working cash and the bonds that are sold by the District to populate that account:
2. Evidence-based Financing
It appears that evidence-based financing for schools is stalled in the Illinois General Assembly at this time. Evidence based funding would help District 201 if implemented. Here is the wording of the proposal:
3. Transportation Services Acquisition
The District is still looking at a plan for acquiring First Student to provide transportation services in house.
From the Belleville News-Democrat:
On Monday night, Belleville District 201 officials told the school board they were still negotiating on possible changes to the district’s school bus services.
The district’s current transportation contract is coming to an end, so it has been exploring three options: extending that contract, offering the service itself or hearing proposals from other companies.
Last month, Assistant Superintendent Brian Mentzer said the district asked its transportation provider, First Student, Inc., for a proposal for a one-year extension of its current contract.
“Negotiations continue with First Student on a daily basis,” he said on Monday.
The district has also been working on the cost estimates of offering the service itself instead of contracting with a bus company, which would involve purchasing buses and employing drivers. Belleville District 118 Superintendent Matt Klosterman has said the two Belleville districts talked about joining forces to offer bus services. Both districts currently have a joint contract with First Student.
During its meeting Monday, the District 201 School Board approved a letter of intent to buy or lease the property at 2012 Mascoutah Ave. in Belleville, which is currently a First Student transportation facility. Mentzer said the letter doesn’t require the district to do anything, but it does allow school officials to negotiate the sale of the property with its current owner.
Superintendent Jeff Dosier said it gives the district more insight into its options.
“We don’t want to close any doors,” he said.
Kurt Schroeder, vice president of the board, abstained from the vote on the letter.
District 201 could have also asked for proposals from other transportation companies, but Mentzer said district officials haven’t pursued that route so far.
School board members have not yet been asked to make a final decision on any of the options for transportation services.
A cartoon featured on Feb. 13 showed marshals escorting the first black child into an all-white elementary school in 1960, 6-year-old Ruby Bridges, so that she would have the same educational opportunity as her white peers. Unproven voucher systems and charter schools will likely result in economic re-segregation of students by how much income their parents make, creating unequal learning opportunities using government tax dollars. If it wasn’t OK in the 1960s, it certainly shouldn’t be OK today, to have segregation in any form in schools receiving taxpayer dollars. Nothing has occurred in our nation since the 1960s that would justify such probable economic re-segregation.
Betsy DeVos, as depicted in the cartoon, was escorted through an alternate entrance to a D.C. public school to bypass protesters, most likely because of the previous two sentences. Protesters are fearful she will try to impose her unproven ideas about education on our country. The protesters were rejecting the economic re-segregation of schools based on the financial resources of well-off parents being combined with voucher money to send their children to more exclusive educational learning opportunities to the detriment of the children without those financial resources: defacto economic re-segregation of publicly funded education.
DeVos had the perfect platform to make the case for her views during her confirmation hearings. She did not. Why? Public schools cannot survive already stretched thin educational tax dollars being diverted to for profit schools, charter or otherwise. Involve all stakeholders in educational reforms please.
PRESIDENT, ILLINOIS FEDERATION OF TEACHERS LOCAL 434
BELLEVILLE FEDERATION OF HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS
Want to be a teacher when you grow up? Apply for our scholarship and you could earn $1000 to help pay for college!
Belleville Federation of Teachers is seeking applicants interested in pursuing a career in secondary education. Each applicant will be evaluated according to several criteria. The deadline is March 31, so don't miss this opportunity. Eligible applicants can apply online in just a few minutes.
Thank you to everyone who took the time today to show support for public schools! Strong community support is important to maintaining successful public schools. When studies show that 76% of parents are either satisfied or very satisfied with their local public schools, it's hard to believe the hype that the public school system in America is failing. Let's fix the small percentage of schools that are failing without throwing all the successful ones under the bus. We can't just sit back and watch as organizations try to transfer our public dollars into their private pockets.
If you're proud of your local public school, or know a teacher, paraprofessional, counselor, librarian, nurse, custodian, principal, administrative assistant, engineer, cafeteria worker, bus driver, or anyone else who helps to drive the engine of our public schools, then remember to thank them. (Or just share or like this post and maybe they'll see it.) :D
Belleville Federation of Teachers Local 434
A Union of Professionals
All about ALEC, the influential and powerful group lobbying to dismantle public education and workers' rights...
ALEC's education agenda is focused on privatizing America's public schools. Its bills undermine public education and teachers' unions and also divert taxpayer dollars from accountable public schools to unaccountable for-profit education corporations. ALEC masks its true agenda in "feel-good" language, such as shifting from terms like "vouchers," which are broadly unpopular and rooted in segregation, to "opportunity scholarships" or "tuition tax credits." ALEC bills expected to crop up in 2016 include:
In 2016, ALEC will be pushing several new initiatives designed to undermine worker rights, limit reduce wages and benefits, weaken job standards, and break unions, both on the state level and by undermining the power of local governments.
Weakening Unions. Several states have introduced ALEC's anti-union "Right-to-Work Act" in recent years, and the ALEC model has become law in Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia--bringing the total number of "right to work" states to 26. ALEC's "Public Employee Freedom Act" is its right-to-work bill for public sector workers. These laws have the aim of defunding unions by encouraging workers to free-ride on union representation by allowing them to opt out of paying union dues to cover the costs of representing employees on the job.
For more on ALEC, go to http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/What_is_ALEC%3F
Your Union and District leadership discussed some possible changes to opening day activities for teachers. Thanks to the input from many teachers, as well as the actions of your Union leadership, the District plans to make some changes next year which will hopefully afford teachers more time in their classrooms at the start of the year.
Please don't hesitate to forward any future concerns or complaints on to your campus reps or the Union leadership! We're here to look out for you!
The term ‘Right To Work’ is a misleading phrase used by opponents of unions and collective bargaining, to eliminate the leverage unions have to negotiate fair wages & working conditions. The choice of words is meant to convey something that it is not. Federal law prohibits anyone from being required to belong to a union to hold any job. However, federal law also requires all workers, union or not, to receive the same wages, benefits and protections negotiated and provided by that union.
Therefore, it has been customary to permit unions to collect ‘Fair Share’ payments from non-union workers. Fair share requires non-union members pay the equivalence of union dues to the union. The rationale for this is the union incurs significant costs negotiating the benefits received by all members, union or not. Federal law also mandates the union legally represent non-union members for any work-related disputes. This may require the union to incur expensive legal bills defending non-union members.
Some union and non-union members object to their dues or fair share being spent for political activities that they oppose. However, everyone has the right to direct any of their dues that would otherwise be spent for ‘political activities’ to be allocated toward a non-religious charity of their choice. In other words, no one is required to spend any of their money supporting political causes that he or she personally opposes.
If Fair Share were eliminated in Illinois, some of our people will quit so they can save money on dues. When enough members drop, the bargaining unit loses leverage to negotiate better wages and conditions for all workers. Our pay and benefits in District 201 are comparatively good because our union has nearly always had 100 percent membership. Make no mistake! If Fair Share is eliminated, and just a portion of our people quit the union, you can expect a diminution of our pay and benefits relative to inflation.
Currently, 25 states have ‘Right To Work’ laws, and teachers’ unions in Illinois are under assault from two directions. Governor Rauner refuses to even discuss the Illinois budget until Democrats agree to sacrifice public unions. The current Supreme Court vacancy and Senate gridlock has the possibility of affecting the outcome of this case.
In light of the recent election, this topic will most likely come back to the Supreme Court. That is why we need to be vigilant about protecting ourselves. That is the function of our union. The next U.S. President and Congress have significant power to affect your paycheck.
Proud alumnus, union member, and educator in District #201 since 2006.
Dr. Hentze is the author of High Finance with Hentze, a monthly blog that provides news about District 201's current financial state.