CRYSTAL FALLS—In what could be a first, the Forest Park schools and the city of Crystal Falls are joining forces, forming an ad hoc committee that could lead to development of a track and field facility at Runkle Lake Park.
The item was discussed by both sides during the School Board’s Jan. 27 monthly meeting.
Forest Park does not have track facilities at its athletic field.
Board Member Don Peterson said the ad hoc committee will be looking at DNR grants to cover the project’s cost.
City Manager Dorothea Olson, who attended with Mayor Janet Hendrickson and other city officials, said she has been looking at DNR grants in connection with improvements at the city-owned park. “We might be able to link the two together.”
They talked about three possible DNR grant sources: Land and Water, Recreation and Trust Fund. Each would require a local match, and the city would have to be the grant applicant.
Peterson said he and Board Member Jason Gasperich would represent the School Board, and track coaches Erich and Chandra Ziegler would also take part. Once the city appoints its members, the group will work together on a plan.
One possible location, Peterson said, is between the soccer field and a ball field. Olson said the site is within the city’s recreation plan. “That would have to be something the committee has to hash out.”
She said Jeff Bal had put together a plan as part of the city’s most recent recreation plan, showing a proposed track.
The deadline for DNR grant applications is April 1. The City Council’s next meeting is Feb. 10, Olson said, “so we have to get on the fast track.”
Superintendent Becky Waters noted that with tight governmental budgets, “We’re looking at it being a totally grant-funded project”
“DNR grants require a match,” Olson replied. “So somebody’s going to have to commit some dollars from somewhere.” In-kind work can cover some local match requirements, but the same in-kind work can’t match more than one grant.
But if the program can get a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant, Peterson said, that federal money can be used to match state grants.
• The superintendent told the board she has “no idea where the state budget is going to go.” But it may not go as far as school officials hope if a list of proposed legislation goes into effect.
A report labeled “2013 Legislative Reductions to School Aid Fund” lists $129 million in potential cuts to state funding for K-12 public schools: the equivalent of a $82.69 cut in state aid per student.
“It’s all the things back-door that we’re unaware of,” Waters said. “It was an interesting read for me.
“I’m not sure how you can go backwards with our funds at this point, when you end with a fund balance,” she added, referring to the state budget.
“It’s an election year,” Board President Jim Nocerini said. “They promise us money. In December, after the election, they take it away from us.
“They have over $1 billion, and most of it came out of the schools.”
“There are lots of hands in Lansing reaching out for that money,” Board Member Bill St. John noted.
• Board members approved a series of student outings and excursions.
--The performing arts field trip to Appleton, to see the musical “Wicked” on March 2 at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. It will be a one-day trip. No cost for the district. The Band Boosters are covering the cost of the bus, and students are paying for the $96 tickets—the Band Boosters are supporting an extra Dina Mia fund-raiser. It is for eighth through 12th graders.
--The sixth grade trip to Chicago, where they will visit the Museum of Science and Industry, Medieval Times, the Shedd Aquarium and the Lincoln Park Zoo. They will stay at Country Inn and Suites near O’Hare Field. Middle school math teacher Renee Kivioja said the trip will include 25 sixth graders and take place May 21 to 23. The students raised money by running concessions stands at girls volleyball and boys junior high basketball games and will also hold a Dina Mia fund-raiser. Total cost (including adults) is $7,445; students pay $180 apiece.
--The fifth grade field trip to Trees for Tomorrow in Eagle River. “We’ve done this trip for quite some time,” the superintendent sai, and it covers four areas of the curriculum. Tuition is $115 per attendee, with 25 students and one teacher going. It takes place May 14 to 16. Total cost is $2,990 (about $75 per student), with chaperones paying their own fee. The PTO pays for the bus transportation. A Trees for Tomorrow scholarship covers $1,000 of the total cost.
--The annual junior class trip to downstate colleges. The Academic Boosters cover much of the cost of the trip, which takes place each spring. No information about this year’s trip was available.
• Science teacher Jen Toivonen received a grant from Lenore Nelson from the Iron Mountain office of Meemic Insurance. Toivonen said the funds will be used to equip the 16 stations of the new chemistry lab “to carry out all of our regular chemistry labs.”
Toivonen said students Kaitlyn Bradley and Hannah Marinoff helped her with the application.
• In other business:
--Waters reported the entire bus fleet passed its annual State Police inspection with no issues.
--The board hired Joanne Seppala as a one-hour noon recess aide.