As indicated in the article last night the Board of Education and the SFA met to discuss transition plans. No school district in Illinois has emerged from an SFA, they either dissolved or continue to be governed by an SFA (East Saint Louis, Chicago, Hazelcrest).
This shows the enormous progress the district has made in just 7 short years since the Financial Oversight Panel (the predecessor to the SFA) was put into place. Short term debt has been eliminated, long term debt is well under control, fund balances are up across the board and the district has more cash on hand than many districts would ever dream of having.
There are many folks responsible for this: first the taxpayers who absorbed a tax increase when the tax cap was reset three years ago, the FOP members who first helped to start getting us on track, Walter Korpan our former business manager and CFO, Dennis Stonewall who helped right the ship in a number of areas and worked building bridges with the community, the current SFA members who have gradually allowed the Board to take back most control as we have continued our recovery. Finally Dr. Ben Martindale deserves a large amount of credit for coming in with a plan to get our district back to local control. After almost a year and a half we are well on our way.
I’ll be running for re-election in April and I hope to be fortunate enough to be returned to office and help with our transition back to local control. I’ve had many proud moments in the past few years on the board but of that accomplishment I would be the most proud.
Another school year is already in full swing in Round Lake Area Schools and the Board of Education is excited about the number of new programs and restructuring of current programs we are offering for your children this year. The centerpiece of these changes has been the re-opening of Magee Middle School thanks to the support of you, the Round Lake Area taxpayers. With careful use of your referendum dollars we have rebuilt a building we believe the community can be proud of — a beacon in the middle of Round Lake, bearing a proud name, rising like a phoenix out of the ashes to signify to those within and outside our community that Round Lake Area Schools is back.
Now with two middle schools we were able to create true middle school programs of 6th, 7th and 8th grades thus relieving some of the overcrowding at our elementary schools. This opened a door to our next opportunity — full-day kindergarten. The earliest years of a student’s life are some of the most important ones where many of the basic concepts they will carry forward with them are formed. Studies have shown that quality and quantity of instruction during these years provides for better results down the road. We’re proud to be one of the first schools in the area to provide full-day kindergarten to the families of Round Lake thus giving them an early leg up on learning.
With these important projects now completed the board is still keeping its eyes on the future and isn’t done yet. Later this month the Board of Education and School Finance Authority will be meeting to put together a transition plan. This plan will see Round Lake Area Schools become the first district to have local control by the school board returned to it after state intervention. We are very excited at this opportunity to return our district to normalcy the way the Illinois State Constitution intended for it to be — local residents, elected by the community to represent them, in full control of the school district and the education of the community’s children. This simply hasn’t been done before and Round Lake is setting the example for other school districts to follow thanks to your support during a very difficult period of our existence. It says to the whole state that in Round Lake, yes we can do better, yes we can do it ourselves, and yes we will set the standard for others to follow.
Again, we cannot thank the community enough for its support and its interest in the present and future of Round Lake Area Schools. Each day you show to us all and remind us why we are here — to build the foundation for the future of our children and our community. We continue to work hard to exceed your expectations and realize there is much work yet to be done. With your support we are able to do so and able to prove day after day that yes, we can!