Young: Financial consideration will dictate what we can do in the next few years. The state currently owes us close to $2 million. Most of the district’s expenses are salaries and benefits. How we handle the revenue shortfall depends on what faculty, staff and administration do regarding future salaries and benefits. If we can reach a compromise on salaries, insurance and pensions with them, we will keep more teachers, staff and administration. The more money that is paid out in salaries and benefits, the fewer employees we can have which dictates higher class size and fewer class offerings. FreightCar is laying off 254 employees and Danville’s unemployment rate is 10.4 percent. This is no time to increase real estate taxes.
How do you feel about schools being on a balanced-year calendar? Do you think more District 118 schools should follow a balanced calendar?
Ashton: Both of our children went to balanced calendar school. It’s a great system; however, there are a few problems. If you have multiple children, having one student on balanced calendar and one not can be a scheduling nightmare. Having the entire district on balanced calendar would solve that, but then there might be a problem with athletics. Furthermore, it would require that schools be air conditioned and I believe that would be a huge financial burden just at the high school alone. Although Northeast Magnet School has implemented the calendar with success, there’s conflicting research on whether the balanced calendar alone has a significant effect on learning.
Brown: The board has been exploring what many perceive as benefits of a balanced year calendar. While it appears to offer some educational opportunities, many issues must be considered, including parent and community considerations and the financial impact on transportation and other operational costs.
Carey: I am in favor of the balanced year calendar concept. As an educator, I have worked with students in summer programs to improve their skills, especially in the areas of math and reading. I believe children tend to forget skills in these areas when not used daily over a period of time. I would like to see some form of year-round program at all levels; it does not have to be the format we have at Northeast.