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updated: 8/18/2010 9:11 AM

Diamond Lake schools consider foundation for extra funds

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Diamond Lake Elementary District 76 doesn't have the deep financial difficulties some other school systems have encountered, but there is always room for a new source of revenue.

Work continues to establish a not-for-profit foundation to provide financial support for the Mundelein-based district. Organizers emphasize the effort would not target day-to-day expenses.

"We don't want the district to become dependent on the foundation funds for regular operating expenses," said Lisa Yaffe, a school board member who has been working on the effort. "It wouldn't be everyday things."

District residents are invited to attend the first public meeting on the topic at 7 p.m. Aug. 26 in the library at West Oak Middle School, 500 Acorn Lane, Mundelein.

Interested persons could possibly be tapped for the foundation as board or committee members, or to help in other ways.

Organizers are at the point of having bylaws written and a governing board selected so the application for a charitable foundation can be made.

"It's not uncommon for educational foundations to be formed to provide additional funding for school districts, and that's what we're trying to do here," Yaffe said. A local attorney is doing the organizational work at no cost, she added.

Yaffe said a list of goals and objectives also will have to be determined in cooperation with the school board. Generally, funds would be raised for items, such as whiteboards, that because of the budget, might not otherwise be immediately available.

"It would take many years to fully equip the schools with that technology, but a foundation could accelerate the time to do that," Yaffe SAID.

Diamond Lake has three schools and about 1,250 students. About $400,000 was trimmed last spring but did not involve the elimination of any teacher positions. Two retiring teachers won't be replaced and some nonteaching positions were eliminated.

Expenditures for the coming year in the education fund exceed revenues by about $399,000, partially because of dips in state and federal aid, according to a tentative budget considered Tuesday night by the school board.

The recommendation is to cover the shortfall with money the district has in the bank.