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D86 News: Board Members Want Bond Issue on Ballot; LADSE Update

A roundup of items discussed at the Jan. 23 District 86 School Board meeting.

Board Members Want Bond Issue on Ballot 

Two board members filed a petition with the superintendent’s office Monday to put a proposition on the Nov. 6 general election ballot regarding the district’s desire to borrow nearly $18 million for infrastructure updates. 

Dianne Barrett and Richard Skoda argued that the district would overreach its authority by selling limited tax working cash fund bonds without posing the issue to voters. 

The money would be used to complete electric infrastructure updates in both and , including installing air conditioning in all classrooms. 

“Given the current size of the working cash fund and the fact that the district is without a demonstrable need, the district in my opinion does not have the statutory authority to issue any additional working cash funds at this time,” Barrett said in a prepared statement read by Board Secretary Dee Dee Gorgol.

Questions Over Legal Counsel Costs 

The board discussed re-examining its legal services at some point to see if it could find a cheaper alternative.

Superintendent Nicholas Wahl said when he joined the district in 2005, it switched from using multiple law firms for various purposes to contracting a single firm to handle all legal issues. 

The decision to put out a request for quotation in 2005 was driven by quality rather than price, he said. 

“You’re definitely in a minority if you go out for RFQ as a school district,” Wahl said. “Not that that’s right or wrong.” 

Skoda said he thought there could be some advantages to requesting new bids, as well as splitting the legal work among firms by specialty. 

Brennan proposed reviewing the legal bills back to 2005 to see if the district could find more cost-efficient legal counsel.

Board member Jennifer Planson said she’d be interested in a report on the district’s legal bills. 

“We’re starting to do some due diligence,” she said. “I just want to see what the costs are.” 

Monday’s discussion was a continuation of talk at the December board meeting about sending out requests for quotation for various district services.

LADSE Update

Two special meetings with the LaGrange Area Department of Special Education (LADSE) board have been scheduled for Feb. 1 and 8, Wahl said.

A Dec. 18 meeting did not move forward the discussion on funding and service delivery to member districts, he said, necessitating the additional meetings.

“We would like the District 86 IDEA dollars to be used and to be able to directly track the $683,000 directly to services we receive for our students,” he said.

The district still hasn’t seen a LADSE funding model that does that, he said.

Board Protocol to Remain Inside Job 

President Dennis Brennan asked the board if they wanted an outside consultant to advise on board protocol. The consensus was no.

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