Discussion was lively at the USD 231 board of education Jan. 13 meeting.
The days of a rubber stamp board appear to be gone, and we thank new board members for voicing concerns of constituents, asking questions and making suggestions.
Funding was at the forefront of discussion with Bill Gilhaus, superintendent, asking members to consider increasing the local option budget, a local property tax, at the next election.  Increasing the LOB to 31 percent would raise about $360,000.
Gilhaus, who asked board members to hold their questions during his presentation, also said another bond issue should be considered. Although he did not provide an estimated dollar amount, he said facilities, land acquisition, maintenance of existing facilities and parity, as well as building a new high school, or expanding the current high school, should be discussed.  The district’s last bond issue was for more than $70 million in 2012.
Gihaus blamed the district’s financial woes on everything from slowing residential growth, the city’s mix of residential/commercial demographics, reduced state funding and Obamacare.
Gilhaus said full implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act could result in a $1 million budget shortfall in the school district.
When board Tresa Boden asked whether the district had made a plan or provisions for Obamacare, which was enacted a few years ago, Gilhaus admitted there was a backup plan. He said the district would have a balanced budget, but he did not elaborate.
Just once, we would like to hear district administration take responsibility for the district’s finances.
Stop blaming everyone.
The USD 231 district is no different than any other entity or individual that has suffered through the recession and dealt with increased expenses and decreased revenues.
Deal with it.