D159 Board Adopts Budget, Talks Bullying Reports
The board of education for the Mokena school district approved its 2012-13 budget and discussed options for an online bullying reporting system at its meeting Wednesday night.
The Mokena School District 159 Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt its proposed budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year at its Wednesday, Sept. 19, meeting.
The meeting was preceded by a public hearing on the budget, during which residents were free to comment. There was no public discussion.
The budget breaks down as follows:
Having discussed the intricacies of the budget in-depth at previous meetings, the board members also had no discussion to add before the vote.
Later in the meeting, the board discussed a possible addendum to the district's parent-student handbook regarding bullying. The item was submitted to the board for first reading by the Parent-Teacher Advisory Committee. The board's discussion on the addendum focused on the process of reporting bullying incidents to the district and how the board could implement an online reporting form.
Board President Patrick Markham initially urged members to adopt an exclusively digital approach because of the valuable data that could be gathered and analysed from online reports.
"The reasons for it are to be able to track it, handle it professionally, keep the data, involve the history in the results, and see what our best practices are, be it peer mediation or whatever the results were," he said. "Paper is what we've been dealing with, and how do you like what we're getting so far? I don't. It's certainly not accountable, and it doesn't call for accountability. So I think it has to go back to the committee with a clear stated direction: We want an online form."
However, other board members disagreed with Markham, arguing that an alternative to the online form should be available for people who don't have online or computer access or who are more comfortable filling out a hard copy. Board member Michael Ford said the district should have a way to keep track of reports that are submitted via hard copy or in person.
"Some people do like to come in face-to-face and see who they're reporting to and have a conversation, see what's going on," he said. "I still think there's a great value to that, but we need some kind of procedure for how it's going to be implemented if it's turned into one of the principals. There needs to be a chain of command of who it goes to."
One digital solution the board is examining is a system called "Stop Walk Talk," which Vice President Joseph Spalla said would cost the district $3,000 per year and allow it to direct reports to the appropriate administrator for each school.
Ultimately, the board agreed to send the proposal back to committee to find a way to successfully implement both types of reporting while maintaining the ability to track the data.
Other business at the meeting included a proposal by newly hired Business Operations Director John Troy to develop a fund-balance policy for the district, which would help the board set financial goals and spending guidelines in place depending on the level of its monetary reserves. Troy plans to study the district's financial history over the past few years and have a presentation prepared for the Oct. 17 board meeting.
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