Lake County schools consider sharing grant writer
Five Lake County school districts are considering an idea to split the cost of having an employee who would seek grants for all of them.
It would be the latest example of local governments sharing resources in an effort to reduce costs to taxpayers. Those arrangements include school districts sharing busing services and villages combining on emergency dispatching.
At a meeting Wednesday night, Grayslake Elementary District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll briefed the school board on a possible cost-sharing arrangement for the grant writer who would work to obtain money from various sources.
Grant writers typically seek money for school needs from private foundations and other governments.
Correll said the effort would involve District 46, Woodland Elementary District 50 in Gurnee, Lake Villa Elementary District 41, Grayslake High School District 127 and Millburn Elementary District 24, based in Wadsworth. She plans to seek candidates by posting the tentative job on District 46's website, but the five school systems would have a role in hiring and would need to forge a joint agreement if someone is hired.
Millburn District 24 Superintendent Jason Lind said Thursday it likely would cost about $60,000 in annual salary and benefits if his school system had its own employee seeking grants. He said parents have been seeking grants for the Millburn School and Community Garden.
Lind said he'll need to discuss the job-sharing proposal with the District 24 school board.
He said his district should gain more in funding than what it would contribute toward a grant writer's salary and benefits.
"Maybe we're missing things we don't know exist," Lind said. "Or maybe not."
Correll said officials from the districts met to discuss the grant writer concept early this week. Differences in enrollment numbers and demographics in the five school systems are among the reasons the grant needs are expected to vary, she said.
"All the superintendents felt that we really wouldn't be competing against each other," Correll said.
District 46 board President Steven Strack said the job-sharing idea should work "as long as the grant writer can be trusted to not be biased" for any school district.
Examples of schools and other governments combining resources vary.
Libertyville Elementary District 70 and Oak Grove Elementary District 68 have shared three employees for finances and buildings and grounds since 2011. Warren Township High School District 121 and Gurnee Elementary District 56 joined forces on student busing in 2011.
In 2012, a joint center operated by Vernon Hills police and the Countryside Fire Protection District began handling all emergency and nonemergency calls from Libertyville.