District 91 board members will discuss the feasibility of hiring an outside firm to conduct student residency investigations at the Dec. 14 meeting.

A Nov. 17 deadline for bids yielded some results, however, members of an ad hoc subcommittee declined to discuss those proposals until the full board has a chance to review them. Board members Sean Blaylock and Glenn Garlisch are currently reviewing the proposals that were received and will make recommendations to the board on how to move forward.

The exploratory committee was formed at the Sept. 14 meeting after Superintendent Randolph Tinder, who retires at the end of the school year, explained that students’ residency investigations took up a significant amount of his time. Tinder suggested the board might want to consider offering the new superintendent the option of outsourcing that job.

Along with soliciting proposals, Blaylock and Garlisch also researched other school districts to compare District 91’s situation regarding student residency questions as well as those districts’ approaches to conducting investigations. They found that other school districts had many of the same issues and were utilizing comparable approaches to address the problem.

“We were happy to see that we weren’t an anomaly and that other districts had situations very similar to ours,” Blaylock said.

The committee also examined the documentation required at registration and found that it was consistent with what other districts asked for. Blaylock saw no need to change the information requested from students’ families before the beginning of the school year.

Blaylock and Garlisch found that other districts handled investigations in various ways. Some district superintendents did the investigating, some utilized outside firms, while others had a staff person who could spend half their time on truancy and the other half on investigations.

While a hot button issue in the community, the number of cases referred to the superintendent for investigation over the past couple of years has been less than .5 percent of the student population, and the percentage of students found to be in violation is consistently about one-third of that number.

The board would like to have the decision finalized in time for the transition to the new superintendent in the spring of 2007. If an outside firm were to be utilized, the costs could be figured into the next year’s budget as well.