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Peotone School Board Holds November Meeting

Brian and Mary Cann were honored at the Peotone School Board meeting last week for years of dedication fundraising for the Fine Arts at Peotone High School. They have an annual chili cook-off Fine Arts fundraiser at Brian’s Place in Monee. Pictured are Superintendent Steve Stein, Brian Cann, and Richard Uthe.

by Chris Russell

Business Manager Trevor Moore also presented to board members the tentative tax levy for next year. The $11,819,418 levy is a 4.9% increase over last year. Since the increase is less than 5%, a Truth in Taxation hearing will not be required. Adding Bonds and Interest, the total levy will be $16,839,343.

Board members approved the 2018 tax levy of $11,819,418. The breakdown is as follows: $9,238,000 for educational purposes; $1,182,380 for operations and maintenance purposes; $709,625 for transportation purposes; $1,001 for a working cash fund; $216,318 for municipal retirement purposes; $216,318 for social security purposes; $0 for fire prevention, safety, energy conservation; $169,441 for disabled accessibility, school security and specified repair purposes; $85,334 for tort immunity purposes; $1,001 for special education purposes; and $0 for leasing of educational facilities or computer technology or both, and temporary relocation expense purposes. Bonds and Interest comprise the remaining $5,019,925, totaling $16,839,343.

Board members will decide on the levy at the December 17th  meeting.

The 2018 Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) is $374,570,491. Property valuations are not as high as pre-recession values, but they are climbing back to previous levels. The 2008 EAV was $393,846,937.

Tax levies don’t set the tax rate but rather total a dollar amount. That tax levy amount is spread proportionally throughout the district. Therefore, the tax rate is the final step of the process.

The school district successfully sold $4.4 million in Working Cash Bonds on the open market and the refunding bonds to the Worth Township Treasurer. The district will $77,000 in expenses by selling the refunded bonds directly to Worth Township and also from a credit upgrade from Moody’s to an AA3 rating on the open market. The district’s financial advisor noted that any Illinois School District receiving an upgrade is rare right now.

Furthermore, Moore noted that the district applied for a property tax relief grant from the State of Illinois. Illinois set aside $50 million for relief in high property tax districts. Though Peotone is not likely to receive the grant, they still submitted the application.

The annual audit for the Peotone School District has been completed and approved. The auditing firm recommended that some revenue items be reclassified and included in an amended budget next Spring.

The report concluded that the district had a $320,000 surplus, due to the $600,000 in proceeds from the sale of land. Excluding the land sale, the District had $22,211,000 in revenue and $22,500,000 in expenditures.

Board members are considering purchasing a cellular/analog phone device in case of a power outage emergency. However, a phone can plug into the cellular/analog device and would stay on a desk in the office. Also, the unit has a battery backup and is portable. Last year, a rogue mylar balloon short-circuited power lines and left the school buildings in Peotone without power and no communications to notify parents. Therefore, board members sought a solution to reach their robocall should a power outage occur again. Cell phones are an alternative option.

Board members agreed to add a full-time, permanent substitute teacher position.

The economy is in full-employment and filling substitute positions has been difficult. The Peotone elementary school principal has had to dedicate considerable time to substitute teaching this year. Therefore, they are hiring a full-time substitute that Superintendent Steve Stein said will work every day.

Roy Erickson will be installing a welcoming stone at the entrance to the Peotone Junior High, replacing the white sign on Blue Devil Drive. The large rock will be similar to the high school

Board members agreed to add a school resource officer from January to December of 2019. The district will be responsible for one-third of Officer Dan Stankus’ compensation, costing the district approximately $33,000.

The Booster Club will become a 501c3 to provide tax receipts for donations and accept credit cards. They believe this change will allow them to raise more money for students. Moving to a non-profit, they would need to execute their own audits and financials.

Board Bits:

• PHS student Matthew Lexow received permission to accomplish his Eagle Scout Project at the high school. Lexow will build a shelving unit in Band Director Rusek’s room for instruments. Lexow said that he hopes to begin within two months and should finish the project in about two days, with the help of his Scouts from Frankfort Troop 270.

•The school district will save about $18,000 a year by switching to ATT from Comcast for their data and internet services.

• Board members approved the application for the Safe Routes to School Grant through the Village of Peotone

• The district will use US Omni as a 403B payroll benefit administrator. The change allows a more streamlined process.

• The Winter Concert is planned for Tuesday, December 18 at 6 pm.

• Final exams are scheduled for December 19, 20, and 21.

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Russell Photography

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