Schools can take 2 – percent growth

By Nina Gougis

he DeKalb school board decided Monday they can reasonably accommodate no more than a 2 percent annual growth in student population in upcoming years.

The 2 percent growth, or about 100 new students a year, will be all the district could handle because building space is extremely limited, said Board President Tom Teresinski.

He said as the district continues to grow, housing the students has become more of a concern since there is no money for new school buildings.

“We are working in a collaborative effort with the community to enable us to accommodate that growth,” Teresinski said.

Board member and secretary Holly Wallace proposed that any formula used to calculate growth in the district be modified annually to meet changing conditions.

“When you’re trying to do long-term planning and you don’t know if the district is going to grow 5 percent or 30 percent, it can make coming up with a formula troublesome,” Wallace said.

In addition, the board approved the budget for fiscal year 2005 with additional budget adjustments in state grants.

The adjustments will increase the difference in revenue and expenditure in the budget. The board will have $12,000 left over, instead of the estimated $600 when the board reviewed the budget in August.

“It allows for some flexibility and brings us closer to where a budget truly needs to be,” said MeriAnn Besonen, assistant superintendent for business and finance.

Besonen said the difference is nowhere near the typical 1 to 2 percent. Still, she said, it is a lot better than what was estimated in August.

“Considering the fact that the overall budget is about $35 million, it’s really not that much, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Besonen said.

Teresinski said the extra money is good considering the decreased state funding and increased property taxes in recent years.

In addition, the school board accepted nearly $2 million in grants resulting from the No Child Left Behind Act. Almost half will go toward schools with low-income students. The remainder will be used for staff development, anti-drug and violence programs and innovative technology programs.

The school board also accepted a $38,600 donation from the DeKalb High School Booster Club and $660 from McLean’s Auto Station, 1208 E. Lincoln Highway, for the athletic department.

The next school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Oct. 4 at the District 428 Educational Center, 901 S. Fourth St.