District 153 amends budget to reflect additional state funds

Homewood District 153 is closing its books with an additional $187,000 added to the Education Fund.

The school board amended its 2018 budget at its June 18 meeting to reflect the additional money from the State of Illinois as part of the Illinois Legislature’s evidence-based funding formula approved in 2017.

John Gibson, chief school business officer, said although the legislature took action on the new formula in August 2017 it took until April 2018 for the formula to be designed.

The evidence-based funding formula is meant to advance fairness in funding. Schools have been supported primarily by local taxes. The wealthier the district the more tax it collected. The system kept poor districts from meeting parity.

The new formula gives additional state money to districts through general state aid. The formula considers the number of at-risk students, early childhood education, student-teacher ratios and other numbers.

The board is now preparing its budget for 2019 and will have preliminary numbers in August.

In other business, the mother of an incoming eighth grader came before the board asking that it take action against students who she says has been bullying her daughter.

She claimed her daughter has been harassed because she wears a hijab, a traditional Muslim head covering. The mother said the harassment has been going on for some time. She did speak with Superintendent Dale Mitchell about it a year ago. She said after that the bullying stopped, but the last weeks of school this year the taunts started up again.

“They’re believing they can do what they want to do,” she said of the other girls who have singled out her daughter.

Mitchell said there are very specific codes of behavior and punishment for specific actions. The district does not tolerate religious or racial hate. He said the general school population is made up of well-behaved students.

Board members assured the mother that situations with the few who are causing trouble will be addressed. Her daughter should share information about future incidents with Mitchell or Hart School Principal Scott McAlister so appropriate action can be taken.

Mitchell also shared with the board plans for recruiting new teachers. The district had 120 applicants for a third grade teacher position. He said video screening of applicants could help the district bring in the best candidates for final interviews.

The district also will step up its advertising and attendance at college fairs to try and recruit minority applicants. He said the village’s “Think Homewood” marketing campaign and new videos the board had developed about District 153 will be great tools to share insights into the community with future employees.

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