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Only Oswego

District 308 Kindergarteners Returning to Home Schools in 2017-18

May 10, 2016 07:41AM ● By Steven Jack

Eastview Kindergarten Center (photo courtesy of sd308.org)

The first piece of the puzzle was put into place Monday night in the effort to redraw the school boundary lines in Oswego School District 308. 

The School Board voted 4-2 to implement its kindergarten transition plan that will move kindergarteners out of the Eastview Kindergarten Center back to their home schools in the 2017-18 school year. 

The vote also triggers transitioning the district's Early Childhood Education program from Brokaw Early Learning Center to Eastview. Officials have said Eastview could be used for special education programs currently housed at the Old Traughber Junior High (District 308 Center), which they say is beyond repair and is no longer a useful learning environment. 

Board members Brad Banks and Mike McDowell both voted no on the proposal. Banks had previously proposed delaying a discussion and vote on the Brokaw to Eastview portion of the plan. 

The kindergarten transition plan has been proposed as the first step to redrawing district boundaries — a process that could begin later this summer. According to Superintendent Matthew Wendt, the kindergarten plan will save the district about $500,000 annually in transportation costs and is overwhelming supported by parents throughout the district.

Budget uncertainty continues

The School Board also received an update Monday night on a potential multi-million dollar budget deficit for next year. Ali Mehanti, assistant superintendent for business services and operations, told board members in April that due to state funding uncertainty and property values in the district early projections showed a possible $6 million funding shortfall for next year.

Mehanti returned to Monday night's board meeting with four updated budget scenarios that factor in $2.7 million in new budget cuts and a pared down district staffing plan for next year. Three of the four scenarios leave the district in the red by anywhere from $820,000 to as high as $4 million. 

Each of the proposed scenarios takes into account different levels of state funding, which is still uncertain due to the nearly year-long state budget stalemate in Springfield. The fourth scenario shows a budget surplus of about $2.6 million, but includes increases to local funding (property taxes) and Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed funding level, which is unlikely to happen as state lawmakers continue to be at odds over the state's education funding formula. 

If the district should be forced into passing a budget with a large deficit, Mehanti said the district's reserves would have to be tapped to shore up the funding hole. Those reserves also could  take a huge hit if no action is taken in Springfield on education funding. Without state funding, Mehanti said the district could operate on its reserves only for the first semester.

The district's next budget is due to be voted on in September.