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The Rundown: District 124 Hears Legislative Update, Approves 2012 Budget

State Rep. Kelly Burke stopped by District 124's board of education meeting last week to give a legislative update. Board members approved the 2011-2012 financial budget.

was one of several in attendance at District 124's Board of Education meeting to update the community on legislation regarding educational funding.

“This is the first term that I’ve had as state representative, so I thought that it would be a good idea to visit all of the school boards, and give you a little update of what has gone on in Springfield that would pertain to your specific situation,” said Burke at last week's meeting. 

Burke said that one of the primary goals regarding educational spending is to balance the state budget. According to her, it is “the biggest and most overriding concern.” The estimated figure for this fiscal year is near $33 billion, she said. 

“There was a lot of pressure to say that we were going to get more money and then spend that money, [but] the attitude that won the day was to estimate conservatively. We’ve got all this backlog of bills, let’s take whatever excess money coming in, and use it to start to pay down any unpaid bills.”
 
Her hopes, along with the rest of her task force, are to “start paying them in big chunks,” so that the state can create manageable incremental payments over an extended period of time.

Burke said she believes that, “(if) we can stay disciplined, I think that it can be (done) over a period of three years or so.” This is Burke’s inaugural term as a sitting state representative. 

District 124 2011-2012 Fiscal Year Budget Approved

Board members voted unanimously to approve Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124's budget for the 2011-2012 school year. 

Fran LaBella, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services said that $19.3 million is needed to cover the upcoming school year's costs, which breaks down to about $12 million, or 60 percent allocated to students instructional services and education, and $1.8 million for instructional support, which includes social workers, health, and psychological support. LaBella said $1.9 million is allocated for media/technology, food service, and transportation, which breaks down to 10 percent, 2.3 million, or 12 percent of the budget will go toward administrative services.   

Of the budget, 82 percent is generated by local property taxes and revenue, 13 percent will be produced by the State, and the remaining 5 will be rendered by the Federal Government.

LaBella concluded that although those figures seem astronomically high, “thankfully a majority of the funding is going into the classroom.”

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School Technology Benefits

Technology is now being viewed as one of several essential tools needed for this current generation’s educational success. This year, District 124 students will be introduced to a new computer-based curriculum that will encourage exploration and growth with Microsoft Office tools. 

All kindergarten to sixth graders will be introduced to Microsoft Word, Power Point, and Excel applications, which may vary among age groups, and will learn how to safely navigate the web.

Teachers will introduce students in grades three to six to standard keyboard training and seventh and eighth graders will delve into Microsoft Power Point. According to staff and faculty, students are very eager to learn and explore all on their own.

MAP Score Assessments Place D124 Kids Higher than Normal

Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Assessment scoring for the 2011 school year looked at the average growth of student’s aptitude for reading, mathematics and language. An average basis on normative studies for each student placed the District at 70 percent, which is 20 percent higher than the status quo, District 124 board members said.
 
Next month’s District 124 Board of Education meeting will be Oct. 17 at 7p.m. at , 9058 S. California Ave.

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