District 214 will host a series of public listening sessions in January, February and March to solicit community feedback regarding potential future capital projects districtwide. In addition to the listening sessions, a citizens advisory group and a student advisory group also will be formed to solicit input and feedback.
The citizen advisory group will include a staff member and two parents or community members from each building and the associate principal for operations from all six district high schools. One junior and senior from each high school, along with a student representative from the district's alternative programs, will serve on the student advisory group. Anyone interested in serving on the citizens advisory group should contact the district office or the principal of the high school in his/her attendance area.
The District 214 board requires the district have financial reserves between 50 to 55 percent of the district's annual expenses, allowing for six to seven months of operations funding, if necessary. In October, District 214 announced that its reserves had exceeded 55 percent of the overall operating budget. As a result and through this process, the district will review its long-term financial situation, identify potential capital projects to directly support and further enhance the teaching and learning environment across the district.
"As a district, our primary goal is to create a learning environment that provides strong and relevant academics that prepare all of our students for future success, supports co-curricular activities, and fosters pride in our schools among students, staff, parents and the community," Superintendent David R. Schuler said.
"We believe the capital projects feasibility process will comprehensively assess the academic, athletic, fine and performing arts, and operational needs of the district in order to make that happen," he said. "I am very proud of our financial stewardship. We are now in a position where we can consider capital projects without asking the community for additional revenues. We are excited to engage the public in this review process."
The district will host two listening sessions on each of four identified topics, including academic, athletic, fine and performing arts, and operational needs. The task force is expected to make its final recommendations to the Board in late spring.
"As a board, we work hard to be fiscally responsible and are proud of the fact that we have not had to issue a tax referendum in 44 years and have had a balanced operating budget for the last 18 years," said Bill Dussling, school board president. "The capital feasibility project provides us a unique opportunity to consider enhancements to the infrastructure of our schools -- many of which are on average more than 45 years old -- with the help of direct and valued input from our students, staff and public and without decreasing the percent of funding that we already spend on student education."