Danville finalizes five-year schools plan

DANVILLE — Danville school board members on Wednesday finalized a long-term strategic plan for the district.

"It will give us a blue print for the next five years," Superintendent Mark Denman said of the plan, which includes 155 strategies covering academic achievement and curriculum, communication and marketing, facilities, financing, human resources and staffing, parental and community involvement and safety and discipline.

The strategies were recommended by more than 900 focus-group participants including district staff, students and community members, then prioritized by school administrators. Board members fine-tuned the plan before approving it.

Now school officials plan to work on putting 10 to 15 strategies in place each year over the next five years. Some of them include piloting a longer school day at the elementary schools; expanding alternative education programming for students; and providing more parent-teacher time and increasing communication among district staff and between the district and the community.

Some strategies have already been completed or are already underway. They include adding more teaching assistants and social workers, placing school resource officers and school administration managers at North Ridge and South View middle schools and developing a grow-your-own future teachers program.

Also at the meeting, Denman and Business and Finance Director Heather McKiernan said they are reviewing possible staff and supply cuts, which may be necessary next year due to a significant loss in revenue and the uncertainty of state funding.

"I think it's only prudent to look at trimming," Denman said, during a presentation on the district's financial outlook for the 2013 fiscal year.

McKiernan said the district has seen a decline in state, local and federal funding — which officials anticipated and built in to the current budget.

She said the state is behind in its payments to the district to the tune of $2.6 million. Local officials have been told to expect only three of the four categorical payments — a possible loss of $922,000 — and to not expect the 24th and final state aid payment, a loss of $1.2 million, this fiscal year.

McKiernan said the district saw a 4.14 percent decrease in its equalized assessed valuation of property, a loss of more than $650,000 in property taxes this year.

"We're thinking it could possibly be another 4 percent (decrease) this year," she said, adding that would mean a loss of about $657,000 next year.

In addition, she said, corporate replacement taxes have decreased 17 percent from January 2011.

While the district received about $2.49 million in jobs bill funding in the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years, and more than $1.55 million was used for salaries and benefits, raises and to create new jobs, Denman said that money won't be there next year.

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