Why Is PORTA Considering A Reorganization Effort?
Looking to the Future and Insuring Student Success
by Matt Brue
January 27, 2012
The PORTA Administration and School Board have been actively seeking opportunities for reorganization with other local school districts in order to maintain and grow the current curricular offerings for our students. We feel that the PORTA District prepares students very well for life after high school. A very important part of the preparation is the curriculum we offer, which includes advanced placement, dual credit and other advanced curriculum. Additionally, PORTA offers an exemplary Fine Arts program, multiple agricultural and technical programs and no less than 30 extracurricular programs and clubs. All of these programs are important in a well-rounded education and are in jeopardy of disappearing, primarily because our enrollment is declining. Program costs do not decrease as the number of students in the program decrease, but unfortunately revenues do decrease as our enrollment declines.
Public Schools in Illinois rely on three primary sources of income, General State Aid, Local Tax dollars based on Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) and Federal revenues. General State aid is based on the number of students in attendance during a given period of time and the amount of local dollars that can be raised based on EAV. Currently, the State of Illinois guarantees each public school $6,119 per student, but if a district like PORTA can raise $4,000 per student in local tax revenue the state will pay the difference, in this case $2,119. If the district’s enrollment averaged 1,400 students the State would send $2.96 million to the district. If that same district had 1,000 students they would receive$2.1 million from the State. This example district would receive $800,000 less a year in revenue and over time would not be able to support their current programming. Unfortunately, this scenario is a very close representation of what is currently occurring at PORTA.
With declining enrollment and reduced revenue projections in hand the PORTA Board of Education has actively sought out opportunities for reorganization over the last 5-6 years. The Board believes a proactive stance on reorganization could insure a quality education in an environment that is appreciated by the families of our school district. The PORTA Board refuses to follow other school districts that found themselves reducing programs and diminishing services for children because they did not have the foresight to act in the best interest of their students. One immediate goal of the PORTA Board is to insure a quality education, while keeping the taxpayer in mind. While the PORTA District’s tax rate is one of the lowest in the surrounding area, the property values in the district are experiencing all time highs. Considering any sort of tax increase to maintain the current status quo is unlikely at this juncture. Hence, the reason for the consistent search for a willing neighboring district to consider reorganization with PORTA.
On February 8, 2012 the PORTA Board will meet with the A-C Central Board of Education at the A-C Central High School in Ashland to discuss the possibility of reorganization between the districts. While this is a very preliminary meeting, the PORTA Board would welcome the participation of the PORTA families and community members at the meeting. As the Board of Education moves toward its goal of stabilizing the curricular, financial and social aspects of the District, it also invites you to participate actively in this discussion. Please take the time to attend any meetings, including the meeting at A-C Central High School in Ashland on February 8, 2012 at 7:00 PM. Your voice, regardless of your belief, concerning this important issue needs to be heard. We welcome your phone calls, emails or letters concerning these considerations. Thank You,
Mark Lounsberry, Board President
Mark Schappaugh, Board Vice President
JD Stewart, Secretary
Joni Churchill, Board Member
Kevin Bettis, Board Member
Mark McCurdy, Board Member
Max Bumgardner, Board Member
Matt Brue, Superintendent