By Michael S. Hoey

Correspondent

The Delavan-Darien School District is researching a program that could lead to re-opening Darien Elementary School and keep district students from leaving through open enrollment.

District Administrator Jill Sorbie told the school board about her idea Monday night. She said that when analyzing open enrollment numbers, she found that as many as 80 4- and 5-year-old students were open enrolled out of the district without even giving the district a chance last year. She said a birth-to-3-year-old tuition-based child-care program could keep those students from leaving if successful.

Sorbie said she wants to research if such a program would be viable in the district and if it would help retain students. She said the city has few child-care options, and the program would not cost the district anything because it would be tuition-based. She also said Wileman Elementary School would be the perfect location for a child-care center. If that became the use for that building, Darien Elementary, closed after the failure of the April referendum, could be re-opened.

“That would make the people of Darien happy and keep all of our schools open,” Sorbie said.

Sorbie said other districts have programs like this with New Berlin being the closest.

Tax levy certified

      The board approved a tax levy and mill rate that are a bit higher than the amounts approved at the annual meeting in September. The tax levy proposed at that meeting was $15.05 million and the mill rate was $8.32 per $1,000 of property value. The board approved a levy of $15.42 million with a mill rate of $8.53 per $1,000.

Business Administrator Anthony Klein said the budget is still balanced and has a surplus of just more than $3,400 just in case more students leave through open enrollment during the year. He said the increases in the levy and mill rate are primarily a result of the added expense of the district paying just less than $265,000 to St. Andrew Parish School for its voucher program. The district only budgeted $8,000 for that in the past as just one student has taken advantage of the program. Enrollment is way up this year and those expenses, by law, are passed on to the taxpayer.

Klein said the budget for 2018-19 is $2.13 million lower than it was last year and the mill rate will still be lower than it was last year when it was $8.66.

ACT scores improving

      Sorbie told the board that ACT test scores are improving in all areas. She said the overall score for last year is still not where she wants it to be at an average of 18.9 (up from 18.4), below the state average of 20.5, but the growth is a very good sign. The test is given in February.

English scores went up from 17.9 to 18.2, math scores went up from 18.1 to 18.5, reading scores went up from 18.3 to 18.9 and science scores went up from 18.5 to 19.4 – an increase that Sorbie said was unprecedented.

Sorbie gave credit to D-DHS Principal Jim Karedes and teacher Sandie Ortiz for instituting a lot of changes at the high school that have led to the growth.

 
 

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