District 201 school board approves debt restructuring

News-DemocratFebruary 10, 2014 

Belleville School District 201 school board unanimously approved the final phase of the district's debt restructuring at its meeting Monday.

Assistant Superintendent Brian Mentzer said restructuring the district debt is the "fiscally responsible" move given the current financial climate. He explained district officials have been working to restructure the district's highest interest debt for the last 10 months in an effort to create a stable tax rate for homeowners within the district.

"This is a proactive measure to limit any increase to our taxpayers," he said.

School board members approved a resolution to issue up to $11.25 million in school bonds to refund some of the district's current outstanding bonds.

Mentzer said he continues to be "cautious and concerned about the condition of the education fund" given the state of Illinois currently owes the district $2 million, which puts a "strain" on the district's cash flow. "That's something we continue to watch and monitor on a daily basis," he said.

Superintendent Jeff Dosier said Kalynn Larsen, a special education teacher, will serve as interim director of the district's Alternative Day School program located on the Belleville East campus. Mentzer said the current director Bob Dahm is out on medical leave following extensive back surgery.

While serving in this capacity, Larsen will earn a pro-rated salary of $77,500 annually. Mentzer said the additional stipend is approximately $80 a day more than her current teacher salary.

Also at Monday's meeting, Dosier updated the board on some of the relationship programs currently in place at both Belleville East and West high schools that focus on teaching students about healthy relationships. The programs available to students include mentoring; Empower Me for female students; and Students and Teachers Offering Protection, referred to as STOP as well as others that address bullying and cyber bullying.

"Unfortunately kids deal with a lot of different issues as they are growing up," he said.

In other news, the school board approved a new advanced placement chemistry textbook at a cost of $14,500 and the addition of AP graphic design and AP photography next school year.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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