School news

BOURBONNAIS — The Bourbonnais Elementary School Board approved the 2020 tax levy of $14,582,922 and heard a mid-year update on the district’s learning plans around COVID-19 during a meeting Tuesday.

Dennis Crawford, chief school business official, estimated the levy would mean the owner of a $100,000 home would see about a $40 increase on their property tax bill.

He said he expects the district would actually receive about $14,431,142, roughly $150,000 less than it is asking for.

To calculate the levy request, Crawford said he multiplied last year’s extension by the 2019 consumer price index of 2.3 percent and also multiplied estimated new property values of $4.6 million by the current tax rate.

To be safe, he doubles new property values in his calculation to make sure the district gets all the money it is entitled to, he said.

“I like to request more, and that is because these are preliminary numbers,” he said. “I like to increase some of my numbers to make sure we are going to capture everything in new property.”

In other news, Superintendent Adam Ehrman shared his reflections on the school year so far and said he considers the first semester to have been successful.

All three of the district’s K-3 schools have remained open for in-person learning every school day since the year started Aug. 19.

Ehrman said he remembers feeling like that would be an impossible task in July, when he had just started with the district as its new superintendent.

“I can remember having conversations with administrators saying, ‘I hope this works for a couple days. I hope this works for a week. I hope this works for a month,’” he recalled.

Liberty Intermediate School went remote for a total of 15 instructional days, while Bourbonnais Upper Grade Center went remote for 12 days.

“What’s really nice to say is we were able to successfully come back to in-person instruction after an adaptive pause,” Ehrman noted. “For many school systems, the pause is still ongoing.”

As for what second semester will look like, Ehrman said he didn’t want to make any predictions.

He said he would continue monitoring data around COVID-19 trends in the school and community in making decisions around school safety and learning models.

If this year has taught school leaders anything, it’s that arbitrary timelines are useless during unpredictable times.

“COVID-19 unfortunately doesn’t care about the dates we’ve established on our school calendars,” he said.

While he didn’t want to make predictions, Ehrman said he was optimistic with COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon in Kankakee County.

Teachers and staff getting vaccinated would alleviate staffing concerns that arise with fluctuating close-contact and isolation numbers, he said.

“That has been a major pressure point on our system is our staffing concerns,” he said.

Reporter

Stephanie Markham joined the Daily Journal in February 2020 as the education reporter. She focuses on school boards as well as happenings and trends in local schools.