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Homewood schools will begin work on new strategic plan

The District 153 Board of Education has agreed with a proposal from Superintendent Dale Mitchell to embark on a new strategic plan for the district.
The last plan was developed in 2012.
“I think it’s a good time to do it,” Mitchell said when making the presentation to hire R.J.M. Consultancy Services for help with the plan’s direction. Mitchell said he would like to start the process as soon as possible. Work will begin with the board members before drawing in staff and community representatives.
Dr. Robert Madonia of R.J.M. Consultancy Services is familiar with the area, having working in Flossmoor District 161.  In helping other districts, he has examined issues around human resources, community and public relations, buildings and grounds, finances and financial stability, curriculum and assessment outcomes, district culture and climate. Mitchell expects many of those topics will be included in the District 153 work.

The board approved a contract for $9,600 with R.J.M. Consultancy Services.

The board also approved a $3,000 contract with Studio 604 for professional promotional videos. Mitchell said people are learning about school districts through online searches and he hoped to have vignettes that showcase the district, its programs and students. 
“We have so much to share,” Mitchell told board members.
The board set 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 for a public hearing on its next school budget. The district is waiting to learn what financing the state will be providing this school year before giving final numbers.
The state has reimbursed the district about $500,000 of the expected $900,000 outstanding from the 2016-17 school year for categoricals that cover special education, transportation and other mandated programs.
“It’s been a shell game all year, and it’s continuing,” the superintendent said. “They’re making it really hard to stay even-steven here.”
The state has already missed one of the 2017-18 general state aid (GSA) payment to the district. Throughout the year, the state sends GSA support to districts through 22 payments. 
“We’ll probably miss the next one, too. That’s already $800,000” the district will be shorted, Mitchell said.  “They missed one GSA payment 25 years ago, and promised to make that up and never did.  And districts are a lot worse off today than they were then,” he added.
Schools will open on Aug. 24 and District 153 will be able to manage because it has a fund balance thanks to residents approving a referendum in 2016.
“Can the district remain open all school year without payments? I think so, but our finances will be decimated,” Mitchell told board members. “That’s very problematic for districts like ours.”

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