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“In the New Year, never forget to thank your past years because they enabled you to reach today! Without the stairs of the past, you cannot arrive at the future!" — Mehmet Murat Ildan

Ah, January! As the month’s namesake suggests, January is a time for looking back on accomplishments and looking forward to new goals. We get the name from an old Roman god, Janus, who for the Romans represented beginnings, gates, doorways, and transitions, among other things. And fun fact – it’s also where the word janitor comes from, meaning "caretaker of a building, [person] employed to see that rooms are kept clean and in order".

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Throughout the year, we Board members do a lot of cross checking, looking back and looking forward, to ensure that our resolutions and work have met the needs of the district as well as serve the future needs of every Royal. This includes students and staff, their families, and community members.

A quick review of our activities last year shows that HBR 429 is indeed on track to meet our goals. Just to mention a few important highlights, we have retained and hired many excellent teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, and staff, who all cooperate to make our schools safe, clean, fun, and effective. We have worked with the Village of Hinckley to provide solar energy for the schools, at a cost savings for the district. We have highlighted accomplishments in all three schools via our monthly Royal Shout Outs, we have made efforts to improve our buildings and grounds, and we have supported extra-curricular activities ranging from the FFA to athletics and more. Our supportive resolutions are too many to name in this short blogpost, but 2022 was a productive and fruitful year for the Board and the district members we serve. If you’re interested, more details can be found here.

As the quote at the top of this post suggests, our “stairs of the past”, for which we are thankful, help us get to the future, and a large part of the future, from the Board’s perspective, pertains to finances. Historically, the HBR Board has proven accountable to the district’s finances, but there are some major decisions on the horizon, and we are encouraging every Royal’s input on those decisions. 

Briefly, as a matter of our goal work for the district, we will:

continue the investigation of our existing debt service schedule in an effort to better understand our options for future potential projects to continually meet the needs of our students and community as a whole. The task states that we will determine the need for community forums to share information on our goal work and options moving forward. 

As has been reported during our recent monthly meetings, HBR has worked hard on paying down our existing debt service reducing our obligations from $15,002,325 to $3,924,843 in the last six fiscal years. Through Board resolutions, we have also saved the taxpayers $519,345 in the last seven years. 

Those savings are important, and we will continue in that vein. However, we can do more to serve the future needs of the district, and this is where your input is being sought. The Board is working to schedule a series of meetings starting this spring to gather your thoughts on future projects and their funding, for which bonds will need to be issued/sold. Many details will need to be worked out, but we are talking about large sums of money. As part of our fiscal responsibility, the Board cannot make these decisions without you. 

Here’s what we know so far. In concert with our Superintendent, we will schedule a meeting per month in March, April, and May of 2023. Each month, the meeting will be held at a different school building in the district. We are soliciting ideas for big-ticket items like building repairs/renovations, large infrastructural work (e.g., roofs, HVAC, and other systems), or improvements to grounds and their optimal utilization.

As of this writing, more important details are coming next week and will be discussed at upcoming Board meetings, but in our ongoing efforts at better communication with every Royal, we wanted to get these meetings on your radar before your calendar starts to fill up. So, please keep an eye out for the specific meeting dates to be shared no later than February, mark your calendar, and bring your most creative ideas. In a sense, we are all janitors of our district’s schools. We are caretakers, and the work is noble. The inclusive discussions are meant to provide a brighter future for every Royal, and we can’t get there without a sturdy, community-built staircase.

If you have any questions or cannot attend the meetings for any reason, please don’t hesitate to contact a Board member, and we thank you for your attention to these exciting and important discussions.

Happy New Year!