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updated: 8/24/2011 4:40 PM

Grayslake D46 may post conference profit

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  • Minneapolis psychologist Dr. David Walsh, left, and Bart Teal, founder of Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Inc. in South Carolina, talk during a conference at Grayslake Elementary District 46's Park Campus in April. Teal's conference may result in a $5,000 profit for District 46.

       Minneapolis psychologist Dr. David Walsh, left, and Bart Teal, founder of Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Inc. in South Carolina, talk during a conference at Grayslake Elementary District 46's Park Campus in April. Teal's conference may result in a $5,000 profit for District 46.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Ray Millington

      Ray Millington

 
 

Grayslake Elementary District 46 may post a $5,000 profit from a spring education conference that was co-hosted there with a South Carolina company.

Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Inc. brought the two-day conference to Park Campus in Round Lake in April. About 600 educators from District 46 and elsewhere attended the final session.

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Professional development workshops, a speech by South Carolina's 2008 teacher of the year and a psychologist were part of the mix for the finale.

District 46 records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show conference expenses of $4,278 were about $50 above revenue. However, an expected donation from a sponsor would place revenue well beyond expenses.

Superintendent Ellen Correll said SMART Technologies is supposed to contribute $5,000 to the district. She said she would work with District 46 board members on how best to use SMART'S money after it arrives.

SMART offered beginner lessons on interactive white boards to teachers at the conference.

District 46's revenue included a combined $1,000 from Liberty Mutual and Sylvan Learning, which were among the companies with vendor booths at Park Campus. The district received a combination of booth fees and donations from businesses.

Correll said her goal was to break even.

"We negotiated with Blue Ribbon on the revenue sharing," Correll said. "I felt that it was important that if we were providing the space and doing at least half of the work, that we receive half of the profit if there were any."

Catering for the conference cost the district $3,278, records show. Another $1,000 went to David Walsh, a Minneapolis psychologist and author considered an expert on the effects of technology on children's health and development.

Walsh held popular morning and afternoon sessions called "Say Yes to No: Why Self Discipline is the Key to School Success and How to Foster It". He also sold books at his sessions.

Correll said Blue Ribbon Schools brought to the conference presenters who District 46 could not have landed on its own.

District 46 board President Ray Millington said elected officials intend to discuss the conference's favorable financial results and the possibility of staging other similar gatherings that could generate revenue. He said the topic may be suitable for the district's advisory finance committee to study.

"We were hoping this would be a break-even and we're happy that it turned out positive," Millington said.

Correll said the conference was "a viable alternative" to paying to send educators out of town for professional development.

Bart Teal founded Chapin, S.C.-based Blue Ribbon Schools and has been a District 46 consultant since 2007.

Teal is known for giving publicized Blue Ribbon Lighthouse awards to some schools that hire his company -- without publicly noting the financial connection. Prairieview School in Hainesville and Grayslake's Woodview and Meadowview buildings have received Teal's top Blue Ribbon Lighthouse kudos.

District 46 has incurred at least $76,000 in Blue Ribbon-related expenses, including convention registrations, airfare, hotels, food, rental vehicles and consulting services in nearly four years.

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