Cleary Resigns From Unit 5 Board; Amended Budget Approved | WGLT

Cleary Resigns From Unit 5 Board; Amended Budget Approved

Jun 14, 2018

McLean County Unit 5 School Board Member Joseph Cleary announced his resignation from the board at Wednesday’s meeting.

Cleary’s departure brings the board's number of vacant seats to two, with three additional members’ terms expiring in 2019.

Unit 5 Superintendent Mark Daniel said the board’s recent resignations are setbacks, but that there are “very good candidates” under review.

“Ideally, I’d like to see a person who truly believes in public education,” said Daniel. “And as we best serve our students, we best serve our parents and our families, and we best serve our communities.”

Once Cleary’s resigns later this summer, the board will expand its search to fill the two vacant seats. Former Board President Jim Hayek resigned from his position earlier this year.

Cleary left the board and his job at Illinois State University to teach construction management at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Cleary said his departure has “nothing to do with the health of the community or Unit 5,” which he assured is still a thriving district.

“There’s lots of things that are going on here,” Cleary said. “I’m still connected to the community, even though I won’t be here.”

Delayed State Money Arrives

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board approved an amended district budget with a total operating cost of $169 million for the 2017-18 school year.

For the first time in recent history, Unit 5 had a structural deficit for the current school year. It's anticipating an even larger deficit next year.

The latest numbers show Unit 5 technically ending the fiscal year with a $2.3 million surplus, but Business Manager and Treasurer Marty Hickman said the $1.1 million sitting in the education fund is a result of two delayed categorical payments from the state.

"We do have a structural deficit, and we'll have to continue to address that."

“We talked about that even from the beginning, that that would improve our budget scenario. But we did not show those in our initial budget because we wanted to show what the real current-year revenue versus current-year expenditures would be, so it would show clearly that we have a structural deficit,” Hickman said.

Though the state is caught up on its education payments, Hickman is “hopeful” for the state to provide some of the $2.3 million owed in transportation payments before the end of the fiscal year June 30. The district is ending the year with marginal transportation revenue funds.

Daniel said he is pleased with the amended budget, but that it “could be better” without lacking those two transportation payments.

“We do have a structural deficit, and we’ll have to continue to address that,” Daniel said. “That is something that is not going to go away ... and it’s one of those things where you see our needs become greater, and those services continue to widen.”

The board also voted to switch to a new insurance broker, which is estimated to save the district nearly $430,000 in premium costs.

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