School board discusses future growth in area

By Michael Swiontek

“Scary” was the word School Board President Andy Small used to describe the potential growth in the next five years. Tuesday night’s school board meeting was highlighted by worries of exponential growth in the area.

Despite the current moratorium on new building, one developer will begin a 2,500 unit project as soon as the moratorium is lifted.

The school board projected a 300 to 400 percent rise in the number of building permits from 2006 to 2010.

“We are on the cusp of huge growth,” said District 428 Superintendent Paul Beilfuss.

“The university is buying property to the west of campus for married housing with expectations of more children,” Beilfuss said.

The board discussed the need for a demographer and the reason became apparent as the night progressed. A demographer could help because different projection models gave varying results of future enrollment.

The board approved a budget at its last meeting, Sept. 20, but a number of items requiring district money remain up for consideration.

Budget discussions began with extensive talk about the need for communications coordination. The board agreed an individual communications director should be hired versus the use of an agency. The consideration allocated $75,000 for the position.

Another consideration allocated $20,000 each for a teacher’s mentoring program, No Child Left Behind assistance, and a compensation analyst.

“Mentoring doesn’t happen naturally,” Beilfuss said. “Fifty percent of teachers leave the field in the first five years and the No. 1 reason is due to lack of mentoring.”

The No Child Left Behind assistance will come in the way of an extended-day tutoring program and professional development for the staff.

A compensation analyst is needed because “current job descriptions are antiquated at best,” said Kristina Hesbol, assistant superintendent of human resources .

Beilfuss said the expert would examine job descriptions.

Recent changes in state curriculum requirements spurred the school board into action as well.

The school board is complying with the state standard of a three-year math requirement for the graduating class of 2009.

Academic requirements need to be raised as soon as possible, Small said.

Superintendent Beilfuss suggested standards need to be raised for the youngest rather than the oldest children. He said there is a need for a full day kindergarten program.

Impact fees continue to be a hot topic within DeKalb’s taxing bodies, including district 428.

Capital development fees will be discussed at the DeKalb Plan Commission meeting at 7 p.m. on October 12, Small said.