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NORMAL — Joe Cleary will be resigning his position on the McLean County Unit 5 school board, which leaves two vacancies at the table.

Cleary, who was appointed to the board in 2016, announced Wednesday that he will leave the board this summer after accepting a teaching position at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

“I hope you continue the good work at Unit 5,” said Cleary to the board. “Me leaving has nothing to do with the health of the community or Unit 5. It just so happens I was given a tremendous opportunity that checks all the boxes for me and my family out on the West Coast.”

Cleary and his wife, Karmon, have two school-aged children enrolled at Unit 5.

His vacancy joins the board seat left earlier this year by Jim Hayek, who accepted a new position with State Farm in Phoenix, Ariz.

Candidates who applied for Hayek’s seat also will be entered in the upcoming application pool for Cleary’s spot. The application window for Hayek's seat closed Tuesday, but the closure date for Cleary's seat is to be determined.

Before Cleary’s announcement, the board approved an amended district budget for the 2017-18 school year with a total operating cost of $169 million.

Jumbled payments from the state have left a surplus in the Unit 5 budget for the latest fiscal year, which ends June 30, but district Business Manager Marty Hickman said a structural deficit sits under the surface.

Collectively, the major operating funds — education, operations and maintenance, transportation and working cash — are expected to end the year with $2.3 million in reserves.

“The education fund shows a $1.1 million surplus. That’s because of the two prior year (state) categorical payments that were received this year. We still have a structural deficit of $1.2 million, but because of those additional revenue payments coming in from last fiscal year, it makes this year look good,” said Hickman.

In addition to general state aid, districts receive four categorical payments each year from the state to help pay for transportation and special education costs. Unit 5 is waiting on $2.7 million from the state for the transportation fund.

Hickman said he felt hopeful about seeing an additional payment before June 30.

“Because of that makeup, we can put money back in reserves for the education fund, but we’ll need that money for next year,” said Hickman.

In other action, the board renewed its insurance plans, switching to a new broker that will save the district $428,124 in premium costs.

The package includes coverage from Suburban School Cooperative Insurance Pool, One Beacon, Brokers’ Risk and U.S. Fire Insurance Co. for policies including property, commercial auto, general liability and crime and umbrella coverage.

The annual premium package will be about $785,885, a decrease of 35.3 percent from last year’s premium of $1.2 million.

"We can use this $400,000 for other things in the district besides insurance," said Joe Adelman, Unit 5 director of operations. "Tonight is a night to celebrate lots of huge savings in the district. We removed a lot of legal issues and got processes in order and today we're seeing dividends from everybody's work." 

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Contact Julia Evelsizer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer


Public Safety Reporter

Public safety reporter for The Pantagraph.

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