The hot topic for every school board these days is money -- or lack of it.
That's certainly the case in River Trails Elementary District 26, where four candidates are running in Tuesday's election for three spots on the board -- incumbents Thomas Fallucca and Donna Johnson, along with newcomers Frank Fiarito and Linda Linder.
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Fallucca, a board member since 2002, doesn't think raising user fees would solve the district's financial issues, or that a tax-increase referendum would pass. Instead, he's hoping economic growth will boost the district's bottom line.
"It's difficult to keep passing that cost along to students," said Fallucca, the manager for an electronics group. "I'm banking on the economy getting better. Property values will go up. I would hope residents realize they get a really good bang for their buck."
Teacher salaries in District 26 are tied to the consumer price index, but administrator salaries are not, something Fallucca supports. He said administrators play a pivotal role and motivate both teachers and students.
"Once you realize the benefit of it, it's worth the money," he said.
However, Fiarito said teachers and administrators should be treated as equals when it comes to pay. If fees were increased parents would stop using some services, he added.
"Buses are a perfect example," said Fiarito, an accounting manager.
Johnson served on the board from 1987 to 1998, then returned in 2003. A fiscal coordinator, Johnson said she would not vote for a budget that is more than $500,000 out of balance. She also said administrators should get small raises, but not as high as the cost of living.
"I don't believe in our little bitty school district they should be making as much as they are," Johnson said at a recent candidate's forum.
Linder agreed with Johnson, adding that the district could raise revenues through fees for groups that use District 26 buildings. A retired administrative assistant, Linder said administrators' salaries should be frozen or tied to the CPI.