State's financial mess affects Orion schools' budget

Mindy Carls
Superintendent's office, Orion Community Unit School District 223

The state’s financial situation is still a mess, Superintendent David Deets told the Orion school board on Wednesday, June 16.

With only two weeks left before the district’s new fiscal year begins, it’s hard to build a budget when no one knows how much revenue Orion will receive, the superintendent said.

Fee schedule adopted

The board approved fees for 2010-11.

At Orion High School and Orion Middle School, athletic participation fees will remain at $50 per student, with a cap of $150 per student and $300 per family.

Raising the fee to $100 would have put Orion among the districts with the highest athletic fees, Deets said.

“I’m not sure we want to be in the top 5 or 10 percent,” he said.

OHS and OMS students will pay an activity fee for the first time. The fee of $25 at OHS?and $20 at OMS. Proceeds will help pay for field trips and clubs.

The driver’s education fee, now $50, will be $150 next year.

At C.R. Hanna Elementary School, each student will be charged $90. That is up from $44 for early childhood classes, $67 for kindergarten and $71 for first through fifth grades.

Board member Jon Zahl wanted to delay voting on the fees until the public had a chance to comment, but Deets said the board needed to act right away so everything could be ready for registration in August.

The school offices are closed in July.

Credit adjustments

Band and chorus students will receive three-fourths of a credit next year, instead of one, the board decided. With their teachers cut to half-time, the students will be spending less time in class.

Also, driver’s education no longer will be included in the grade point average, the board decided.

Make a call

Barb Schwarzentraub, the music teacher at C.R. Hanna, told the board that their decisions this spring meant several teachers had new assignments, and one no longer had a job.

She asked the board members to call the affected teachers this fall and ask how things were going.

“Your vote changed our lives, and a phone call from you would be nice,” Schwarzentraub said.

Staff assignments for 2010-11 are almost final, Deets said. They will be posted on the district’s website,

In other business

• There are a lot of questions about where the district needs to go, Deets said. He would like to see the board and interested parties develop a strategic plan in the next three or four months.

• The board held a hearing on issuing $1.25 million in life-safety bonds to pay for roof repairs at OHS?and boiler repairs at C.R. Hanna. No one spoke.

• Certificates of merit were presented to state track qualifiers from OHS. They were Kennen Hutchison, Ashley Anderson, Megan Miller, Cara Christal and Sophie Maciolek, and their coaches, Bruce Redding, Jeff Padgett and Brad Cirks.

• Orion Educational Foundation grants have been made, Deets said. The foundation delayed making them because the district was reassigning teachers.