Adam Clapp at school board

MONTICELLO – The children of full-time employees of the Monticello School District who live outside of the district’s boundaries will soon be able to attend Monticello schools without having to pay tuition, pending state approval.

Previously, students of employees who did not live in the district but wanted to attend Monticello schools had to pay a tuition of approximately $12,000.

Superintendent Adam Clapp, in his first board meeting as superintendent, told the board that current employees asked about the possibility last year.

“We did some investigating and found that about 85% of the districts in our area allowed children of employees to attend school without having to pay out-of-district tuition,” he said. “We thought it would be a good thing to help us retain employees as well have it as a benefit to recruit new employees. “

No one spoke at a required public hearing during last week’s school board meeting. The board passed a motion to approve the measure unanimously.

Next up is approval from the Illinois School Board of Education. Clapp will forward the request to the ISBE, who will have 60 days to respond to the request.

“Typically, they will approve it, but we cannot waive tuition until they approve it,” he said. “So that creates somewhat of a challenge as we start the school year. We would handle it very similar as we have in the past with someone who lives outside of the district and pro-rate it.”

That would require a written request to the superintendent, and a meeting with the superintendent and the parents.

“Enrollment is based on whether or not there is sufficient room in the particular class,” Clapp said. “That protects us as a district so that we don’t have to add teachers if we have too many requests.”

School Board President Kevin Frye was in favor of the plan.

“But I don’t see a big demand for this going forward,” he said.

“There could be five or maybe six kids who will take advantage of this,” Clapp answered.

The parents are responsible for transportation to and from school.

In the past 15 years, approximately six students have paid tuition to attend Monticello.

The waiver is expected to go into effect in mid-October. If approved by the ISBE, the tuition waiver would go into effect at the start of the next school quarter. Prior to that, out of district students would have to pay a pro-rated tuition.

The waiver is good for five years at which time the district can either re-apply for a continuance or let it drop.

Other business

Clapp defined the district’s finances as “very solid.”

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So far, about 60% of the property tax revenue has been received, he said.

“As far as revenue, we are looking at approximately a 15% decrease compared to last year. On the surface, that looks like a pretty negative thing, but last year, we had a record year as far as the CPPRT (Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax) proceeds.”

Last year, the district received $19.8 million in CPPRT, which are revenues collected by the state of Illinois and paid to local governments to replace money that was lost when their powers to impose personal property taxes on corporations, partnerships and other business entities were taken away.

The district had budgeted to receive only $10 million in CPPRT revenue.

“Right now, we are projecting about $12 million in CPPRT revenue,” he added. “In August, the Illinois Department of Revenue will come out with their final projection and we will have tighter numbers to share with the board at that time.”

Clapp said that all operating funds are projected to be in the black.

“We are looking good, even though we are still taking a conservative approach,” he said. “We are looking to build our overall fund balance to $33 million and that is a really good position to be in.”

Ending fund balances for the 2021-22 fiscal year were reported at $30.3 million.

The board approved the 2022-23 tentative budget.

First day is set

Clapp said that the first day of school for students is scheduled for Aug. 17 and the district will be ready.

New student registration begins Aug. 4 and teachers have institute days on Aug. 15 and 16, Clapp announced.

“We have between 15 and 17 new teachers ready to start and our new teacher day will be Aug. 10,” he said. “We still have an industrial technology position to fill and a custodian position but we have interviews for those two positions set up for next week. The teacher shortage is a real thing. It hasn’t affected us here, but it has in some of our neighboring districts who are having issues filling spots. It can happen. We are off to a good start, but resignations can happen at any time during the summer. If it does, we will be pro-active.”

The board approved an estimate of $349,000 to replace two elevators near the cafeteria in the Monticello High School.

The elevators were installed in either 2002 or 2003 and may soon be out of compliance and in violation of Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Much of the work will be done by Kone Elevators.

The work will be done in the summer of 2023.

Clapp, who took over for Vic Zimmerman who retired June 30, announced he is anxious for the start of school.

“I have had a great few weeks on the job and it has been a smooth transition,” he said. “I went to a new superintendent’s conference last week where we got two days of information and Vic Zimmerman was one of the presenters. It was very informative and it is like drinking water out of a fire hose because they jam so much information in you, but everything is going very well.”