Education

District 153 offering new perks to its staff

District 153 is taking advantage of new Illinois laws that allow the district to offer staff who live outside the district the opportunity to enroll their children in District 153 schools. For teachers in-district, student fees would be waived for their children.

The school board unanimously approved the policy at its June 10 board meeting. 

For teachers living outside District 153 boundaries, the board will waive the $13,000 annual tuition. Superintendent Scott McAlister said teachers living in District 153 will have their child’s $300 school fee waived. For current staff, McAlister estimates the fee waiver would total about $8,000.

“We talked extensively about this the past few months. There’s clearly a reason the state adopted this as an option for districts, and one reason is it’s getting more and more challenging to find quality staff, so whatever you can do to provide an incentive to attract somebody, or once they’re here to keep them, I think we need to consider doing,” McAlister said. 

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The policy puts a limit of 20 out-of-district students.  

“In a district of 1,900 (students) it wouldn’t cause an undue burden on class sizes,” he added. 

Other policy caveats include being a staff member for at least three years; students will be charged school fees; and the policy only applies to kindergarten through eighth grade students.

Board member Alex Bosch said he appreciates the criteria in place, pointing out that “it’s not just something you get on the first day.”

Board member Jim Schmidt said it follows what the district has been doing to “grow your own” staff, calling it an extension of those efforts.

“It is increasingly difficult to attract and retain the best staff and we need to use every tool that we can, especially to retain our outstanding staff,” board president Shelly Marks said noting the district “has done some very creative things” including being the first district in Illinois offering paid maternity and paternity leave. She believes the district cares for its staff and has developed a family environment. This policy “is the right thing to do right now,” Marks said.

2024-25 budget adopted

The District 153 school board adopted a $32 million operating budget with an expenditures budget of $32.9 million at its June 10 meeting.

Chief School Business Official Eric Trimberger said the budget reflects changes the board is able to make now that the tax levy has been adjusted to reflect the full amount approved under the 2022 referendum. Before passage of legislation, the district was short about $2 million in revenue.

The budget also reflects three grants the district received: a $117,000 teacher vacancy grant; a $100,000 matching grant for new doors at Willow, Churchill and Hart Schools; $100,000 pre-K grant being used for a cushy surface at the playground at Willow.

The budget also reflects a $575,000 payment for replacement of the Churchill School roof this summer.

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