This message center is intended to keep our stakeholders informed and to create an archive of some of the more critical events for our school district. You will find messages that relate to all facets of our district's operation. It is our hope that this will allow you to be fully engaged in what we are doing as a district.
IT'S GOOD TO BE A PANTHER!
When you cut through the tag lines and the political applause for the effort to fund public schools at 100%, it is critical to know what it really means. The bottom line, what 100% funding means is that the State will fund General State Aid at 100% of $6,119 as the foundation level. The $6,119 was the foundation level in Fiscal Year 2010 and is now set as the foundation level in Fiscal Year 2017.
To understand the real impact, we have to be able to compare like numbers. Had $6,119 been the funded foundation level last year it would have generated $67,961.85 per GSA payment, but at 92% proration, it generated $62,927.64. This year, at 100%, we will receive $65,074.45 per GSA payment. When you compare 100% in 2016 and 100% in 2017, we will receive $2,887.40 less this year than we should have receive a year ago, but $2,146.81 more per GSA payment than we actually received. To this point, the State has made every anticipated GSA payment for this fiscal year.
At this time, last year, the State IOU looked like this…
Fiscal Year 2016 Deficit Funding
Fiscal Year 2017 Deficit Funding
In the fairest of representations, in this fully funded environment, we have received $218,096.51 less from the State at the start of the new year.
Our local revenue has steadily matched on a percentage basis to our growing cost of operations, but State funding has lagged significantly behind a reasonable growing cost of operations. A simple consideration, had the foundation level grown by only 1.8% per year since FY2010, a reasonable representation of economic indicators, our district would be receiving approximately $600,000 more in General State Aid, which would overcome our entire deficit and create a modest $150,000 surplus in our Education fund. If nothing changes, the balance in our education fund will be gone in 4 years and we will potentially not be able to cash flow the months of March and April within 2 years. Our local taxpayers have met their entire obligation to our students. The challenging situation that exists is primarily the responsibility of our State’s unwillingness to invest appropriately in public education.
Engage in the conversation with our state representatives to work toward a solution that best impacts not just the students in LeRoy Schools but those throughout our State.
3 Critical Questions
Representative Bill Mitchell
5130 Hickory Point Frontage Road
Senator Chapin Rose
510 S Staley Rd
Champaign, IL 61822
This is to serve as a reminder regarding how we try to handle winter weather. It is important to remember that as parents you have the final say, if we choose to hold school on a cold or snowy day, as a parent, if you determine that you do not believe it safe for your child to attend school, you simply need to contact your childs school and let our office staff know that your child will be staying home and it will be an excused absence. While 90% of our students are within 5 miles of our buildings and those who serve the City of LeRoy and Empire Township do a great job of getting our roads clear, there are always exceptions and we acknowledge that every parent has to make a decision that they believe in the best interest of their child. Let's hope it is only snowy and cold on the weekends.
Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council has partnered with schools throughout McLean County in order to advance STEM opportunities for students. The EDC has put forth the financial support to make “Defined STEM” (http://www.definedstem.com/) available to the LeRoy School System. STEM education focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. What Defined STEM has facilitated is to allow access to our staff at all grade levels to high quality enrichment activities that link our regular curriculum to STEM related enrichment lessons.
Examples of efforts being made throughout our district: 1.) Upstairs computer lab at the high school has transitioned into a STEM lab and houses a daily exploratory class for our JH students, 2.) Once a month STEM session for our 5th grade students, 3.) created a partnership with an outside stakeholder, Shive-Hattery Architects, to bring a practical experience along side some of our STEM lessons, 4.) “Everyone Can Code” an apple resource that is available through iTunes, 5.) Kindergarten has used Defined STEM resources to support work already being done as a part of our Georgia Math units, 6.) Grade 1 “From Seed to Plan” performance task, 7.) Grade 2 “Farmers and the Economy”, 8.) Grade 3 “Backpack and Toy Designer” performance task and a Volcanology Contest
Our staff has participated in comprehensive training that was also provided by the EDC and Defined STEM. This has been a purposeful bridge built between the business community and our public schools. Great things can be accomplished as we continue to work together in order to provide our students experience related to STEM related careers.
The Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) publishes a monthly magazine that reveals some of the most significant issues facing our public schools. The focus is on leadership and how effective leadership can work to move our schools forward even in the most challenging times. We will begin to push that magazine through our website. We believe that much of the information will greatly assist our Board of Education and our public in understanding the role that educational leadership plays in providing the greatest opportunities to our children.
We also encourage you to look for information related to “Vision 2020.” This is a substantive effort by the IASA to establish a purposeful and attainable vision for Education in Illinois. The committee responsible for this body of work had representation from throughout the state, and if it was not clear before, it is completely clear that we are a widely diverse state and solutions are incredibly complicated. While complicated, they are not impossible. You are encouraged to engage in understanding this path forward; after all, this path is really about your children.
IASA "Leadership Matters" Magazine
As lawmakers and education experts continue to pursue changes to the way money is distributed to public schools, Illinois Vision 20/20 is helping to explain what many view as the best path to reforming the state’s outdated school funding system.
The Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success model is a centerpiece of the Vision 20/20 blueprint for the future of education in Illinois. The model relies on proven research and would provide funding by aligning resources for practices that have been shown to drive positive student outcomes. Equity would be built in to the formula, while adequacy would be defined based on a new “District Adequacy Target” that utilizes 27 researched-based elements.
Vision 20/20 has created a short video to explain how the Evidence-Based Model for Student Success would transform Illinois’ school funding formula and create a pathway for the state to invest in student success.
The primary purpose of the external review of our school system was to validate or challenge our approach to the business of educating our students. It is important to understand two primary factors about the audit, 1.) It was a comprehensive assessment of the entire system, not of an individual building, grade level, or content area, and 2.) Various regional scoring irregularities and such a wide range of school assessments skew the comparison to the average.
The review found exactly what we anticipated in some areas, and really challenged us to own the gaps in other areas, in particular the area of assessment. The findings were very positive; they observed very respectful and engaged students, a positive culture within our classrooms and beyond, strong peer supports between students, and a staff that genuine cares for our children. They recognized the uniqueness of our approach to teaching and learning and celebrated both our commitment to what we believe in and in the impact of that system on student learning. They also celebrated the Board of Education for their commitment to providing an environment that allows our staff to work in the best interest of each and every child.
So, where do we need to grow?
How are we already responding?
The external visit was incredibly validating for the work that has been done by our staff and by our Board of Education to provide authentic 21st century educational opportunities to the students of LeRoy. We should be very proud of our students, our staff, and our community.
All taxing bodies must hold a "Truth in Taxation Hearing" if they expect their levy to increase by more than 5% from the previous year.
LeRoy CUSD#2 will have a “Truth in Taxation Hearing” at 7:00 p.m. on December 9, 2013 in the JR-SR High School Media Center.
LeRoy High School Class of 2016 Graduation Closing Speech
May 22nd, 2016
Written by Courtney Monier, Class President
Before I begin, I would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends that got all of us graduates to this point. I know it’s something you don’t hear enough, but we are truly appreciative of all that you’ve done for us over these past four years.
When I was told I would be giving the closing address at graduation, I wasn’t sure what exactly I would say. Of course, I’d given some thought to this speech over the course of the year, but nothing I initially came up with seemed adequate enough. Sure, it’s only the closing address of our graduation ceremony. However, it is also the closing of the class of 2016’s LeRoy High School career. We have spent the last 12 years together, and survived.
What can one say at the end of a journey like ours?
In the beginning of this journey, so many years ago in 1st grade, we were young, bright-eyed children that examined the world with wonder and amusement. The world was our playground and we could build castles and slay dragons and fly. Then, we grew older, and in sixth grade we dreamt of careers, played foursquare on the playground, and told our parents that yes, we really did know everything. In Jr. High, we were awkward yet full of potential, and watched the high school giants with awe and wonder, wanting to be them. Then, we entered high school and abruptly changed the game. From the very beginning, the Class of 2016 has always had their own way of doing things. We trained, learned, competed, and ended up at the top of every scale. We took traditions and made them better; we came up with new ideas and executed on bigger scales. We told everyone that no one fights alone, and followed through on that promise. We shattered all expectations and ended up in regional championships, final four match-ups, and won our very own state championship. We learned life skills like determination, perseverance, confidence, and creativity. Over the course of our journey, grads, we have become dreamers, thinkers, and ultimately, doers.
It has been the wildest ride. But. The good news is, it doesn’t stop here.
The world outside of high school is vast, and as Mr. Meyer says, fellow graduates, our knowledge base is, currently, exceedingly small. Look around at the world and see just how lucky you are to be alive right now; in a world, and in a place, that so freely gives opportunity to those willing to try. There is so much to learn, see, and experience. This world needs our dreamers, thinkers, and doers that we have so carefully cultivated to go out and make a real difference. I formally challenge you, graduates, to take, not only, the things you’ve learned, but the experiences you’ve had, and project them out into the world. Create, feel, and experience, but also take with you that LeRoy sense of community. The mantra “No one fights alone” can be used throughout the world and wherever you decide to live, not just here. The world could use a little more LeRoy.
So, to close, I would like to read an excerpt from a poem titled, “To the child I once was,” by Tyler Knott Gregson, which also functions, I think, as advice for the rest of our lives.
“This is an open letter to the child I was.
Here are the rules I was never given
and the shortcuts I never got to take.
Listen, because we never know how much time we have and we
never, not ever, are in control of when the lights will go out
and we’ll be opening our eyes to a new light again. Listen:
Never be afraid to be proud of yourself. You are made of magic
and you share dust and light with the stars that shine above you. Please
promise me that you won’t dim your glow because it hurts
someone else’s eyes. Laugh. Truly laugh. Let
life and all of its folly steal the breath from your body
and replace it with the staccato melody of giggles and guffaws;
the laughter that comes without fair warning and continues without
Be kind. Always. Give love freely and never wait for it to come back.
If it breathes, grows or has even a single cell bouncing around
inside it, love it, too. Each and every thing deserves and has earned
more respect than its given so start the trend and I promise,
promise that you will feel part of it all when you hold life
in your hands.
Love. Promise me that you will love. It will shake your skin
and rattle your bones and the sheer volume of butterflies inside
will threaten to lift your stomach to your throat. Love. Don’t
think of the why or the how of the what if and just love.
Finally, never be afraid to follow your heart. Take all you have and risk it
truly risk it for where your crazy heart decides to take you.
Do not ever think you, exactly you, are not capable of chasing your dreams
and do not ever think that you, exactly you, are not worth being chased.
It’s going to hurt, more than you think it will, and it’s going to heal
more than you ever imagine it can. You will be cut, scraped
and scarred from these pursuits but scars are stories, and one day
those stories will make you smile.”
In a recent WJBC article, it was referenced that we have only enough revenue to operate for 70 days, but we would find the rest. Let's clarify, we wish we knew where to "find" money, but we planted sunset maples in front of our buildings, not money trees. The facts of what was said, if you simply look at our 180 mandated calendar days, the State contributes revenues equal to about 75 days of operations. Our local taxpayers in essence fund the summer operations and 105 days of our 180-day calendar.
At the State of the Schools this year, we assured our public that we would be operational in SY2016-17 regardless of the inaction by the State, but that the lack of a State budget was a serious issue. While we will not allow politics to stand in the way of serving our students, the current trajectory created by the leadership in Illinois is not sustainable. In the best interest of the students and community of LeRoy, we need to advocate to authentically fully fund General State Aid and Mandated Categoricals at a non-prorated level. We have been under the conditions of proration and missed payments for 8 years, a condition that has to end or in time we will not be sustainable. Realize that to fully fund a foundation level of $6119 for next school year, would still mean that our school district would be getting approximately $750,000 less in General State Aid than it was supposed to in 2012.
The Board of Education has committed to managing financial reserves to ensure that a failure by the State in any one year would not impact our students, but the perpetual failure to adequately fund over a period of time will make it impossible to continue to provide the level of service to our students and our community that we have come to expect.
The ask of your legislative leaders is simple, 1.) fund at least $6119 as a foundation level & mandated categoricals at 100% for SY2016-17, and 2.) put in place the Illinois Evidence Based Funding for Student Success for SY2017-18 and beyond. Any other solution predestines our district to deficit spend well into the future.
The current climate in Springfield makes the prospect of finding genuine solutions seem hopeless. Those in Springfield have no problem pointing a finger at who they blame, stating why the other party is wrong, expressing which side does not care about the people, and excusing themselves because the challenge is so great. The media simply perpetuates the message of gridlock, blame, and futility.
What we have not heard is anyone with a compelling vision to solve the problems of our State, to move past ideology, to skip the mysterious math of both parties, and to just be truthful. There has been no willingness to establish a courageous path toward what we want for the people of our State and then a commitment to the hard work of making that a reality. If such a leader were to emerge, would we be willing follow, even if we were not in 100% agreement, even if it were really hard, is a solution and a hopeful path worth the sacrifice?
As a school district, our primary focus is on providing an environment that is rich enough in opportunities to learn, to risk, and to experience, so that our graduates can compete in a global marketplace. While funding is critical, so is regulation, so is messaging, and so is purpose. To pick up a paper, what would most think of public education in Illinois? I know that to walk our halls, for that matter to walk the halls of the schools in our area, people would see dedicated teachers and talented students working together to achieve and to learn. We aspire for the freedoms to meet the needs of our students, and to match those needs to the needs of our economy. We believe in the young people and the communities that we serve. We believe that the hard work is worthy of the purpose, and we believe that it is time for those elected to represent our people get past themselves and work in earnest to solve the issues that we face as a State.
Illinois has the 20th largest economy in the world and yet can’t pay its’ bills. The problems are so great that we may need to start with a blank slate. Today, in 2015, what needs to happen to make this all work, to provide a sustainable path for business and industry, to celebrate our youth and capitalize on their talent in order to advance our State and our Nation?
Let’s try an experiment, let’s leave ideology on the sideline and apply common sense and basic mathematics. What could a solution look like? Any solution for a problem of this significance and in a State as diverse as Illinois will contain things that are not warmly embraced by everyone, but how warmly embraced will be the consequence of inaction?
Let’s start the conversation and see where it goes. Please read the “white paper” produced by Ralph Martire and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.
White Paper: Common Sense Solutions
We believe in what we are doing!
The LeRoy School District will always seek to capitalize on efficiencies and innovations that allow us to provide the most appropriate educational services while reducing or controlling the demand on the financial resources of our district. We have been both strategic and lucky in recent years, as we have not experienced the financial challenges of many other area school districts. While we have been saying for several years that our time will come at some point, we have been able to weather the storm for the past few years. Well, our time has arrived. We are anticipating a possible loss of $600,000 in State revenue this year, with over $300,000 of that coming after the budget had been drafted, submitted, and approved. This additional loss is a result of potentially only two of four mandated categorical payments being made by the state and an additional cut of 2.5% to general state aid.
In a recent meeting with the budget director for the Illinois State Board of Education, Superintendents were told that we should only expect two of our four mandated categorical payments for Fiscal Year 2015, and that there may be additional revenue for Fiscal Year 2016, but that there were no defined sources of revenue at this point. If that is actually the case, it seems only reasonable that we should expect similar reductions to general state aid and only two mandated categorical payments next year.
Because of the way in which the general state aid formula works, we had already expected an additional loss of $187,000 as a result of our increased EAV. That loss, in combination with the additional reductions in state funding, has led to an anticipated loss of $657,251 in State funding for next year. When combining the possible effects of the current fiscal year with the forecast for the next fiscal year, it is likely that we will have lost approximately $1,000,000 in state funding in less than 18 months, on top of the $1,000,000 in overall reductions to our state revenues in the last 5 years ($3,126,927 in FY11 to $2,126,923 anticipated in FY15.) We are still hopeful that this year ends better than anticipated and that next year will see a greater commitment to adequately fund our public schools, but we can’t ignore the historic lack of commitment from our State.
We believe in our programs and services that are provided to our students and our parents. We have made common sense reductions to services and programs based upon enrollment and student interest, as well as responding to State mandates. We are not advocating for wholesale reductions to any portion of our programs or services, but to ignore the potential fiscal challenges presented by the State would be irresponsible. We have crafted a deficit reduction plan that outlines in very general terms a path to an estimated $700,000 in reductions over a three year period. There are some programatic efficiencies and modernizations that we would intend to make to our programming regardless of State funding, but to have to make these reductions in a manner that may not be consistent with our ability to properly plan and respond to needs of our students or our local economy is simply not the way we wish to conduct business.
Our decision to implement the deficit reduction plan will be based upon a measure of “fiscal wellness.” This measure, or wellness ratio, is reported each month at our meeting of the Board of Education and will be posted to our district webpage. The objective of the district is to maintain a fund balance of 33% to expenditures, using the following funds Education, Operation & Maintenance, Transportation, and Working Cash. We are currently projecting that we will end Fiscal Year 2015 with a “wellness ratio” of 43%.
We have attached below a variety of informational documents in order to allow our public to be as informed as they wish. We believe in our approach to advancing educational opportunities for our students and to as great a degree as possible will not allow the State of Illinois to diminish the effort that the school or our community has put into providing a true 21st century environment for teaching and learning.
Please contact our local legislators and ask that they engage in real reform, real problem solving, and provide an adequate level of funding for all the children in Illinois’s public schools.
Legislative Contact Information
Senator Chapin Rose: 217-607-1853, http://senchapinrose.com/ContactDistrictMap/ContactForm.aspx
Representative Bill Mitchell: 217-876-1968, email@example.com
*Please take a look at the document listed below, it is a reflection of our past year and a summary of recent trends in state funding.
"Our Year in Review", from the 2015 State of the Schools
Please visit the website:
What is Vision 2020: A comprehensive reform package that begins with a key fundamental question, “what should instructional opportunity look like for all students such that they have the greatest opportunity for success in our global economy?”
In general: It takes high quality teachers that engage in continuous learning and 21st century teaching techniques, it takes student opportunity that works to comprehensively develop both their social and intellectual capacity, it takes broader measures of success for a more complete picture of our students and our schools, and it takes a funding level sufficient to ensure that all students in Illinois have the opportunity to jump off from the same point.
Highly Effective Educators
21st Century Learning
Equitable and Adequate Funding
The State Championship run by our boy’s basketball team illustrated a great deal about their talent, the commitment of their coaches, and the enthusiasm of a community.
The 2016 LeRoy Panthers were 28 wins against 5 losses. The opposing teams that led to those five losses had won 113 games on the season. In the final five games, our boys beat four ranked teams and held some to their lowest point totals of the season. In a deeper analysis of the victory over Chicago Leo, there is a lot to be said about the significance of that accomplishment by looking at some of their wins on the season. Leo had beaten Quincy Notre Dame, Chicago St. Rita, Providence Catholic, Bolingbrook, St. Francis De Sales, Hales Franciscan, Bloomington Central Catholic, and defending State Champion Brimfield, that constitutes a pretty good resume of work. A journey that began in November and went through the gauntlet of the HOIC, ultimately ending in Carver Arena with a 1A IHSA State Championship in Boys Basketball. What a run, and what a story!
So what else can be learned and illustrated from this basketball team and all that surrounded them? For several years at our annual State of the Schools, we have discussed what the “LeRoy Graduate” should look like. We worked to discover what our community believes is important and those skills that lead to success both within and beyond the classroom. We shared the role that the community plays in the success of our schools and our students. It has been this conversation and this effort that was affirmed by what we were all a witness to in the past month of the basketball season.
We have believed for many years that the more students are involved and exposed to the accountability of a team and develop the grit necessary to enter the field of competition, the more successful they will be both while in high school and beyond. Consistent with the break out session in the 2015 State of the Schools, most considered the participation in clubs, teams, and organizations as the critical learning labs that helped to develop the skills that worked to facilitate their success as adults. The five players who started in the state championship game were all three-sport athletes. While there may have been a greater degree of giftedness or love of one sport over another, there was a commitment to compete, to train as an athlete, and to work collectively toward a goal greater than themselves. Those traits extended to the entire 15-player squad; each understood the role that he would play in order to make the team successful. Individuals who are unselfish, focused, and determined, become the people we would like to have work in our organizations or as neighbors in our community.
Beyond their athletic ability, this team represented a diverse sample of our student population, with a wide variety of interests and skills. The diversity was not a barrier or a source of division, rather a unifying force and a celebration of our entire student body. This team was made up of band members, chorus members, members of the FFA, WYSE team members, LEAD mentors, BACC students, Parkland College students, honor roll students, youth group members, and the list goes on and on. They have taken full advantage of all the opportunities provided by the LeRoy School District. They have embraced the “small school with big opportunity” that we have aspired to for several years.
Around their success and the excitement each time they took the court, we saw an equally talented and diverse group of student supporters, led by our cheerleaders. We saw a community that engaged in the excitement, whether or not they had a child or grandchild on the floor. The school became the center of the community and the students both on the floor and off became the hope and affirmation of the Middle America small town where dreams come true through an infectious attitude, unrelenting effort, an unbreakable resolve, and a commitment to a responsibility to something bigger than any one person or any one moment.
It was the aggregate run and all the variables that illustrate the wellness of the Panther Nation and the potential that we see for all of our children. While we may not always win the title, we can also seek the attitude, the effort, and the resolve necessary to form the habits of success that create the potential, whether realized in high school or beyond; the potential nonetheless will be realized.
Thank you all: the 2016 Basketball Team, the coaches, the parents, the fans, and the community for providing clear evidence of the strength and passion for our schools and our students. Involved Community-Competitive Students-Productive Citizens!
By the way, stay tuned to the spring. We aren’t done yet!!
Congratulations to the coaches, players, and parents for the Semi Final win over Liberty! LeRoy will face Chicago Leo on Saturday at 2:00 in the Peoria Civic Center for the IHSA 1A State Basketball Title. There will be a reception for the team in the High School Gym following the Championship game, estimated time for the event will be 6:30 but the reception will begin when the team arrives back to the gym.
Good luck and thank you for representing our district so well throughout the season. GO PANTHERS!!!
The Boys Basketball team will face Ridgeview in the IHSA Sectional Championship on Friday night!!! The same night as the district's annual State of the Schools. Many have asked, "why not reschedule?" In our district, there are so many things that go on both inside and outside the school district, so there is constantly the potential for conflict in our schedules. We also begin the SOS planning process in the fall, so many decisions are made long before this point and can't easily be turned around. We have set this Friday night as the annual night for the SOS event, and in the event of a conflict, we will simply be as agile and responsive as possible.
We will post video clips from our presentations so those who are not able to attend will be able to get a sense of what is being presented at the event. We would encourage anyone who is forced to choose between the game and the SOS; go to the game. Our first priority is always to support our students. Let's pack the gym in Colfax and bring home a Sectional Title. We would love to make that announcement at the end of the night. GO PANTHERS!!
A year ago at the annual fall retreat for the LeRoy CUSD #2 Board of Education, the Board began the initial discussion about what the future of local education might look like. There were lengthy discussions about education in our community as well as education in our state. We began by documenting what it has taken for us to move forward and embrace the process of modernizing our local approach to finance, facilities, teaching & learning, and community engagement. We then considered what it could look like if the state would provide some of the same inputs to their approach or view of public education.
The Board has a concern that if the State of Illinois does not begin to embrace a more appropriate approach to funding, licensure, and assessment that our students could be less competitive in this truly flat world. The Board has drafted a document that outlines a broad desire for the “philosophy of education” that we desire for our students and a series of guiding principles that we see as essential for the execution of educating the students of LeRoy. We also feel there are implications to students across the state. Your Board has a core belief and binding philosophy for the educational process and responsibilities of our district, however this document serves to illustrate the bridge that we believe is necessary to exist between the local school district and the State of Illinois. Local Boards and those responsible for governance at the state level are bound by a mutual responsibility to meet the needs of the children of our state. The fulfillment of this mutual responsibility is essential for the economic and social wellbeing of our state and our local communities.
The LeRoy CUSD #2 Board of Education is committed to embracing this “Vision Through Their Eyes” and the associated guiding principles; it is our hope that through the course of the next gubernatorial election and the legislative session that we can achieve a mutual commitment to these principles with those responsible for governance and leadership in our state.
The Payoff of Early College Programs for High-School Students
In this 44-page paper from "Jobs for the Future," Ben Struhl and Joel Vargas report on a study of 32,908 Texas high-school students, half of whom participated in dual-enrollment programs with a local college, half of whom did not. Students who were exposed to college coursework while in high school were 2.2 times more likely to enroll in a two- or four-year college, two times more likely to return after the freshman year of college, and 1.7 times more likely to earn a college degree within six years. This held for all racial and economic groups in these two matched sets of students. For the full report, see
The McLean County Medical Society ("Society") is sponsoring a Human Anatomy Cadaver Dissection Lab for High School Students who might be interested in a career in medicine. The Cadaver lab will be held in Le Roy, Illinois in the late afternoons and evenings, and several physicians have expressed a willingness to assist with the dissection lab as proctors. It is tentatively scheduled to begin April 10.
This is a collaborative project designed for area high school students with a strong interest in exploring a future medical career. The program was initially proposed by the McLean County Medical Society (“Society”) and the Society is working in collaboration with Superintendent Gary Tipsord and the Le Roy High School to implement the program. The Society is not aware of any other areas in the state where local health professionals have teamed up with educators to offer such an advanced program for high school students. At this time, students who participate will not obtain any formal credit hours. Nonetheless, we believe student participation will expose them to a rare and highly beneficial experience.
Because this program is very unique, there is no existing blueprint or road map outlining the best way to accomplish our objectives. We cannot look to other high schools to see how they have pursued programs like this, because there simply are no other similar programs anywhere in the state. We have contacted various medical schools and advanced training programs across the country to determine how they do things. We have discussed the project and explained our proposal seeking their input. Among other things, the Society wants to facilitate and support area high school students in pursuing medical careers, be it in medicine, dentistry, or other specialized arenas. We have teamed up with educators like Superintendent Tipsord to help us design and develop a program of special interest to area students who have expressed a strong interest in pursuing a medical career.
The proposed program has been very well received by area physicians. Many have expressed a willingness to participate by assisting in teaching specific body regions based on their specialties. The local dental society has also expressed a desire to participate for prospective and future dental students. Society President Larry Nord, M.D. was pleased with the positive feedback the program has received thus far. He noted, “It is great to see strong interest from local physicians in this program. We’re confident our program might spark similar interest from other medical societies and educators across the state.”
The Society will utilize trained educators to assist in the program to optimize the experience for local students. Superintendent Tipsord and the Society are exploring a process to evaluate prospective applicants for the program. We anticipate strong interest by area students. Unfortunately not every student who desires to participate will be able to do so, simply because of limited capacity at this time. There is no cost to students. Prospective applicants or local educators who are interested can contact Superintendent Tipsord’s office for details.
Superintendent Gary Tipsord is a strong advocate for this program. He stated, “If we desire a world class education for the future of our children and our country, then those of us with a skill set and a willingness need to engage in innovative ways.” Tipsord further commented, “It is refreshing to have such an interest in McLean County, from both educational leaders and from leaders in the field of medicine.”
Residential property values fell by 2.59% overall across the district, while farm ground rose by 6.22%. We also saw our commercial property value increase by 15.07% due to the expiration of the Nursing Home's TIF agreement. When it all sorts itself out, the total property value within the boundaries of our school district rose by only 1.4%, falling 1.8% short of expectations.
As a result of the reduced growth, the school district will see a 4 cent increase in the tax rate. The rate will go to $5.44641, up from $5.40444. The result of the increase will be a $1.17/month or $13.99/year in property tax liability on every $100,000 of assessed value.
It is the objective of the Board of Education to keep our tax rate as flat as possible. Growth of our community is critical to this effort as well as creating other revenue streams in order to ease the burden on local property tax.
As the general assembly has tried to approach the state's pension issue, it has been said by the speaker of the house that he is unwilling to continue the free lunch granted to the down state school districts at the expense of those living in Chicago. While the statement is paraphased a bit, it catches the general theme of the process. Residents who live within the boundaries of CPS pay a tax to support the retirement of CPS teachers and also pay a tax to the state of Illinois, which the general assembly uses in their budget, of which a portion is to pay for public sector pensions. Speaker Madigan, would like to see the cost of retirement shifted from the state obligation to the local districts. This is the concept of the "cost shift," and it is believed that this would bring equity to the system.
What this conversation has done is to bring to light the actual disparity between how the Chicago Public School system is funded in comparison to all other school districts in the state. Whether you are a republican or a democrat, we are all unified to some degree by the fact that we are a part of the "all other schools." Please take a look at the data provided, it will provide you with a different level of understanding related to "equity" of state funding for education.