$195,000 Received From State In Last-Minute Payment
By Alex Haglund
A last-minute payment from the state of Illinois was received the day of the Nashville Community High School Board’s final meeting of the 2017-2018 school year, on Monday, June 25. After a flurry of activity before the meeting, the board approved a final amended budget for the year that had the district in a better place financially than earlier expected.
“Today, we received $195,000 in funding from the state of Illinois,” interim district superintendent Thomas Hawkins told the board. “Nashville High School has really been a beneficiary of evidence-based funding.”
Hawkins said that NCHS finished with the education fund balance approximately $34,000 in the black, when the original budget for the school year projected it to be approximately $230,000 in the red. In fact, the evidence-based funding formula that has benefited NCHS so much wasn’t even implemented yet when the school year began.
Hawkins explained that there are now four tiers of school districts in Illinois. Tier One is for districts that have the most need for funding.
“We are in tier one,” said Hawkins. No only does that mean that NCHS gets more funding with the new formula, but in terms of when the money goes out, “we’re at the front of the line.”
In addition to the money received for the education fund, Hawkins also said the district received a final payment in transportation money, to the tune of $60,000 of the money that arrived the day of the meeting.
“We figured that we were only going to have about $20,000 left in the transportation fund,” Hawkins said, “instead, there’s about $88,000 in it.”
In addition to the money received for general state aid and transportation, the district also received money that day for special education room and board for special needs students.
Hawkins wasn’t exaggerating when he said the payment from the state came in that morning. “It thought I had it all worked out,” Hawkins said, “then that came in today!”
While he said the extra payment did result in a lot of last minute work before the Monday evening meeting on the part of himself and district bookkeeper Stephanie Bauza, Hawkins made sure to stress that he didn’t have any problem putting in extra work when it was for such a good reason.
“We are in much better shape than we thought we would be, economically, this year,” said Hawkins. “This doesn’t solve all of the issues…but it does go a long ways towards putting this district on track financially.
Action Related To Budget
Related to the budget, the board started off the meeting with a budget hearing, during which Hawkins summarized the amended budget being presented and the payments from the state. There were no comments from the public and the board adjourned the hearing and called the regular meeting to order.
The board made action to first abate $100,000 from working cash to transportation. Then the board authorized transfering $100,000 from transportation to working cash to repay an interfund loan (balancing the budget and allowing both funds to finish in the black).
The board approved a final amended budget of the 2017-2018 school year, which as stated above, reflected the payments from the state to the district on Monday. Hawkins said that with the meeting being held on June 25 and the final day of the year for accounting purposes being on Saturday, June 30, there might be some slight reconciliations to take care of, but this would be the final budget brought before the board.
End Of School Year Action
The past school year has been a turbulent one for leadership at NCHS District 99. Principal Mark Begando was hired August 7. On September 26, Superintendent Ernie Fowler took an early retirement deal amidst controversy. Thomas Hawkins was hired as District Interim Superintendent on October 2. Finally, the hiring of Brad Turner as the new District 99 Superintendent was announced at the board’s meeting on Monday, February 26.
There has been a large amount of extra responsibilities that have been taken on by Begando in the past year, and even after Hawkins was hired, as an interim Superintendent, he was limited in how many days he could be present on campus.
“There has been no person more so,“ Hawkins said, who was filling in these gaps and taking on the necessary roles in the district, “to keep things running than Mr. Begando.”
“Due to those unusual circumstances,” Hawkins said, the board took action after closed session and elected to make a one-time compensation to Begando for extra responsibilities that he undertook and for vacation days that he was unable to use.
In other after closed session action, the board approved making payment to confidential employees, non-certified staff and administrative staff – for the 2018-2019, 19-20, and 20-21 school years, the district’s professional staff will be receiving the same 2.5% increase in pay that was approved for teachers.
Turner Takes Over In July
Several actions taken by the board were in anticipation of Brad Turner taking over as district Superintendent at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, which actually starts out the month of July.
Actions like authorizing the superintendent to begin preparing the 2018-2019 budget were brought to the board by Hawkins with the understanding that the superintendent they were authorizing would in fact be Turner (who was present at the meeting as well).
The board also approved the Title I School-Wide Plan application, which, after being turned in by a June 30 deadline by Hawkins, could then be amended under the guidance of Turner to better distribute Title I funds across the entire student body as the district leadership see fit to best benefit the district.
With his relatively short time at NCHS at a close, Hawkins said that he was thankful to Nashville, both for the opportunity to work here and for the experience that he has had here.
He also said that he was very excited for the Nashville Community High School community to have incoming superintendent Brad Turner.
“I think that’s going to be a really good match,” said Hawkins.