Jasper County Community Unit School District #1

Spring is here at last!   We are in our final quarter of the school year and that means time begins to fly. 

Jasper County Community Unit School District #1

Spring is here at last!   We are in our final quarter of the school year and that means time begins to fly.  Spring sports begin this week and there will be band and chorus concerts, senior awards, several end of the year banquets, field trips, prom, PSAE testing at NCHS, the high school musical, and much more.  Just a reminder of some important dates: April    9-One Hour Early Dismissal for Easter; 10-Good Friday - No School, 13-Easter Break - No School, 13-Mobile Mammography Unit at NCHS North Parking Lot, noon to 5:00 p.m.  Open to the community, 16-Dental Screening - Grove Elem. & St. Thomas, 17-Mid-Term/Progress Reports Distributed, 16-19-NCHS Musical - Thoroughly Modern Millie, 22-23-PSAE Testing - NCHS and 30-Dental Screening - NCHS, Pre-K, & Willow Hill Elem.

Other upcoming dates include a retirement reception for District employees who will be retiring at the end of this school year.  On Wednesday, May 13 from 3:45-5:45 p.m. at the NCHS cafeteria, the JCEA and the Unit will honor the following District employees for their years of service to JCCU:  Judy Lewis, John Miller, Eileen Smithenry, Linda Chapman, Nancy Ochs, Cleve Bradley, Sally Ault, and Bob Miller.  You are welcome to come by to wish them well in retirement.  The Jasper County Junior High 8th grade promotion will be May 21, at 7:00 p.m. in the high school gym.  There will be a teacher Institute on Thursday, May 28 and then the last day of school will be May 29.  NCHS graduation will also be on May 29 at 8:00 p.m. on the football field weather permitting.  Due to weather, we have not been able to have the ceremony on the football field for the past eight years or so.  We will see what happens this year.

At its March meeting, the Board of Education adopted the 2009-2010 school calendar.  We plan to have registration this summer on July 29 and 30 at the high school cafeteria.  The first day of school is August 19 with a teacher Institute on that day and August 20.  Students attend for a partial day on August 21.  The last day of school for next year is tentatively May 27.  We normally have five days built into the schedule to allow for snow days.  If we exceed those days, we must apply to the ROE and ISBE for "Act of God" days.  If we exceed our five days next year the Board may consider using the Monday after Easter next year and the final Institute day as attendance days. 

We have an election coming up on April 7.  The terms of three board members end in April.  Only one, Gordon Millsap is running for reelection.  Wes Pitcher and Marvin Allison have chosen not to run for another term.  In addition to our incumbent, there are three others who plan to run for the three available seats.  Kathy Black, Holly Farley, and Mike Knepper will be on the ballot for JCCU School Board.  I hope that you will take time to vote.  Members of the Board of Education have a great responsibility in caring for the educational needs of the children of Jasper County.   I am thankful for their willingness to run for the board and to serve.

I would like to give you an update about General State Aid (GSA) as it impacts JCCU.  GSA is money that comes from the State of Illinois to support education.  It is the primary source of revenue for most districts.  Over the past several years, due to our declining enrollments and increases in assessed valuation, the amount of money the Jasper County Schools receive through the GSA formula has dropped.  We are fortunate in that Jasper County Schools receive approximately $1 million in extra funds called Hold Harmless as part of our GSA.  Those funds increase our total General State Aid, but only to the amount we received during the 1997-1998 school year.  That is revenue the District depends on to provide for the educational needs of our students.  On January 27, 2009, Christopher Koch, our State Superintendent of Schools outlined the Illinois State Board of Education's (ISBE) proposed budget for FY 2010.   What they have proposed is to eliminate the Hold Harmless GSA.

There are approximately 86 school districts in Illinois who receive anywhere from $1,000 to over $4 million in Hold Harmless funding.  Jasper County is one of six districts who receive over $1 million.  The proposed budget from the ISBE includes reducing Hold Harmless revenue by 50% for the 2009-2010 school year and then phase it out completely in three years.  The result for Jasper County Schools is that we would lose over $550,000 in GSA for next year and then all of this revenue in three years.

We are currently working with Representative David Reis, Representative Roger Eddy, and our Governor, along with several other Hold Harmless school districts to offer an alternate plan.  Obviously, we prefer not to lose any of this revenue; however, if it must happen, we want to offer a more effective plan.  Representative Eddy has proposed a bill that would phase out Hold Harmless over five years beginning with the 2010-2011 school year.  This would give those districts time to make plans for those reductions.  As you can imagine, a loss of over $550,000 for our school district next year would be extremely detrimental.   Add to this picture the fact that the State is more than 60 days behind in payments and owes more than $676 million in overdue payments to school districts for this year, and you can see schools in Illinois are facing difficult times, just like everyone else. 

As you have opportunity, please speak to Representative David Reis, Senator John O. Jones, and Congressman John Shimkus expressing first, your appreciation for all they do, and then seeking their support in ensuring that schools receive the funds that have been guaranteed to them by the State of Illinois.

This month's issue of Know Your Schools has come to an end.  Thank you for your ongoing support of our schools.