As I write this blog, I can’t help but reflect on where we have been as a district this year. We came together to overcome a rough start at the elementary school, we rallied around a State Championship in 2A football, and now we are preparing to be recognized with a third National Blue Ribbon designation in six years (this time at the elementary School). It is a collective effort among students, staff, and parents that has brought us to this place. Tri-Valley is a very unique and special school district, and I feel blessed to get to be a part of it both as a superintendent and a proud Viking parent. As I process the need for work ahead, I am guided by the successes in our recent past.
Our board of education has been busy during this school year developing new board goals and a vision for our district and students. They came together in October after much reflection to create new and exciting guiding principles for our school district. These goals revolve around their desire to have a 21st century graduate that reflects the qualities listed in the picture associated with this article. Their focus will be streamlined over the coming years to utilize finance, facilities, and educational opportunities to help our students reach the vision of a successful Tri-Valley graduate. I am very proud of the work that has been done by our board to define their focus moving forward.
One of the goals of our board of education specifically involves the desire to develop and maintain quality facilities. This became a major point of emphasis over the last year with the issues related to a faulty roof and boiler system at the elementary school. The hope for many schools in McLean County was that the 1% County Facility Sales Tax would help us be able to pay for our facility upgrades. When the proposal failed a few years ago, our district was left to prioritize needed work and determine a plan to complete it in a timely fashion.
Phase two of the needed upgrades is expected to take place this summer with the replacement of a large section of the high school roof. The Illinois State Board of Education has approved this project as a life safety amendment, and our board has been exploring the likelihood of issuing life safety bonds to complete the project. This will require a short-term property tax increase for us to cover the bond issue (two years), but will provide the needed upgrade to our roofs for the foreseeable future. In addition, our board has been working to install, replace, and update our camera and door systems to increase overall student safety and security. Though raising taxes is not something that our board of education ever wishes to do, we realize the need to ensure that we do not repeat the issues we dealt with last summer in relation to facilities.
In addition to the need for facility attention, we remain grossly underfunded by the state of Illinois in virtually all areas. From deep proration to missed payments, Tri-Valley has lost millions of dollars in revenue since 2009. We have been forced to eliminate over thirty positions, create new revenue streams, and narrow our scope in classrooms and programs. We have done all of these things while still having all three of our buildings on the verge of becoming National Blue Ribbon schools. This is a feat that all of us should take great pride in, as it is a direct reflection of the collaboration of an entire community.
As we look to the spring, I ask that you continue to support Tri-Valley schools in the manner that you have. I have the luxury of being in and out of our buildings and classrooms on a daily basis, and I promise you that the work being done is remarkable. I watch staff work tirelessly to reach students, I see parents volunteering and providing support, and I get to watch our students innovate and create. Experiencing excellence in action is a wonderful thing! I look forward to sharing some of these stories over the next few months in upcoming blogs.