Brookfield sets meeting for talks with residents

By Eric Grosso

Discussions at the meeting could center on the addition of an operating levy to the November ballot.

BROOKFIELD — Two school board members are hoping to encourage dialogue between the board and the residents after having formed a special committee and setting a special meeting next month to gather input.

Last month, Kelly Bianco and Tim Filipovich were appointed members of a special committee, described as a “communication vehicle” that will provide accurate information to residents as well as engage the community in dialogue concerning the district’s future.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, Filipovich announced the first meeting for the group, July 17 at 7 p.m. in the Brookfield High School cafeteria. “We want to get more information out on curriculum and especially finances,” said Bianco. She hopes the meetings will be the start of a “collaborative effort between board members and the public.”

“As board members, we need to gauge what the community wants, because its not about what we want, its about what the residents want,” said Filipovich.

Discussions at the meeting could center on the addition of an operating levy to the November ballot. Board president Joseph Pasquerilla said last month the district would need between an 11-mill and 14-mill levy to offset potential deficits, but that any levy would be unlikely to pass because voters had passed a 7.4-mill levy last year.

Former treasurer Samantha Foy believed the district could be facing a debt of at least $318,000 this summer, with the debt increasing by fall. The board voted last month to place nine teachers on reduction-in-force status.

The district will likely still face a deficit, officials said.

Filipovich believes the discussions could help if a potential levy was placed on the ballot. If no discussions were to take place, he said, a levy simply wouldn’t pass.

“Until we build a trusting relationship, we will never be able to convey to the people that their money will be well spent,” said Filipovich.

Fellow board member Ronald Brennan said the community discussions have been done before with little success.

“The people who show up are the same people who show up to the board meetings, usually the people who don’t show up won’t have a good idea of how they are affected by the money,” said Brennan.

He said the discussions need to lead to answers in August, the deadline for placing an operating levy on the ballot. He wants a levy to be placed on the ballot regardless of any discussions taking place. “Putting on a levy is giving the residents a chance to decide,” said Brennan.

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