At the February Stark County School Board meeting, elementary principal, Renee Wallace, reported that the school had received a $5000 donation in order to purchase two new smart boards. Superintendent Jerry Klooster provided an update on the current District Calendar. Since school was cancelled on November 30th, the final day for student attendance is now schedule for May 22nd. High School graduation is still planned for Sunday, May 27th and 8th Grade promotion is planned for Friday, May 25th.
Mr. Klooster also explained that the feds have provided ISBE with the opportunity to apply for a waiver that would give state schools relief from some of the No Child Left Behind mandates. In order to get the waiver, the state needs to demonstrate strong support from schools for an early implementation of Race to the Top. ISBE leadership is urging school districts to commit to early implementation mandates in exchange for some undetermined dollars down the road, but at a recent meeting, several area superintendents agreed to make no such commitment at this time. He then reported that because SB 7 requires that each school district develop Joint Committees to implement new regulations on reduction in force, prior to Feb. 1, the districts Joint Committee on Reduction in Force met to discuss possible deviations from the new statutory language related to RIF’s. The Committee agreed to abide by the original language and to not amend any of the requirements for placement of teachers into groups. In other words, the district will follow the new law.
The Board was reminded that a group of five area school districts is considering forming a consortium for the creation of a Building Trades course for our students. “We are in the very early stages of our plans and we would like to get some input and advice from area bankers, realtors and community leaders as we move forward. We are going to meet with some of these folks on Monday, February 27 at Black Hawk College Community Education Center in Kewanee.” Mr. Klooster said. It was reported that a meeting was held on Feb. 13 to look at options for next year’s health insurance renewal. Mr. Klooster stated “I’m not unhappy with our current broker, but I know of two other organizations that I think are viable alternatives. The Central Illinois Educators’ Employment Benefits Trust made a presentation to the Insurance Committee on the 13th. The Illinois Public Employers’ Pool will be making a presentation soon.”
Under Health Life/Safety Construction Progress, Mr. Klooster met with the district architect and Venovich Construction on February 14th to discuss remaining punch list items at the Stark County Athletic Center. It was decided at that meeting that Venovich Construction would need to tear out and then replace the slabs of concrete leading to the new north door at the SCAC. There were a number of other issues that were resolved. The major issue is the concrete leading to that door and Venovich has committed to resolve the problem within the next two weeks – weather permitting. Klooster then clarified information related to the 2003 School Construction Grant. He stated that: “Finally, as you no doubt have heard, the Governor on Thursday approved the release of monies to schools that were in line for the School Construction Grant. This was the grant (the board) applied for in 2003. Our district was awarded just under $3.7 million. This is very exciting, but of course, we don’t have the check yet. I would like to schedule a Finance Committee meeting to discuss a recommendation for the best utilization of the funds. I would like to set a meeting date far enough in the future so that I have an opportunity to gather information from our attorney, our auditor, our bond broker, ISBE, and possibly Chapman and Cutler, regarding options.”
Plans are complete for the board training dinner on Monday March 12th in Kewanee. Darren Reisberg, General Counsel with ISBE will be the presenter. Six staff members met with Jodi Heavlin and a state police officer from the Tazewell Teen Initiative (TTI) at the end of January to hear more about the drug/alcohol program they have in place. On February 6th, the district staff committee met again to discuss how they would like to proceed. The meeting on the 30th was an outgrowth of the District Drug Prevention and Education Committee plans. Klooster stated, “We would like to develop a grass-roots organization, like the TTI in Stark County, but we do not have nearly the resources or personnel available in Stark that Tazewell County has.” The TTI is a program that was founded by and primarily operated by folks from outside the school. The next planned step is the development of a Teen Committee at SCHS and then a community open house program to elicit support for committee development, membership and leadership.
Under committee reports it was explained that the Education Foundation will not be giving out the Poe Scholarship this year unless interest from the Trust is transferred to the Education Foundation in a timely manner. A question regarding transfer of the monies is on the desk of the Connecticut Attorney General and she has not yet acted on it. Pending her approval, the Trust would then go through probate and then, finally the monies would be transferred to the Foundation. This is a very disappointing and frustrating situation that may very well result in SC students not being eligible for scholarships this year. The Education Foundation is in a very difficult situation because they cannot grant scholarship money that they do not have and may not receive. Mrs. Rumbold did report that the Education Foundation had a successful Trivia Night netting a profit of $1828 and that $13,388 has been received for the Glen Buchert Memorial Fund which will be invested in order to provide an annual scholarship. The foundation also; approved a request from junior high teachers to purchase a scanner for the building, reported that $5000 has been donated from Midwest Ingredients to the SCES for technology hardware; agreed to offer six (6) $500 scholarships to the class of 2012, approved to reimburse 21st Century Coordinator Bryan Blanks up to $150 for food for an upcoming community event and discussed a possible donation by the Rock Island Trail Property Association. Subsequent to the meeting, Hazel Fritz from that Association made a donation of $573 to the Foundation.
The board then moved to unfinished business where they voted to direct Mr. Klooster to let bids for the lease of two new buses to replace the buses that are at the ends of their leases, and to also let bids to either lease another full-size bus or purchase a new or used, full-size bus to replace one of the district-owned buses that now has over 170,000 miles.
The board reviewed the goals they developed at their July 2011 Retreat. During this discussion the Board directed Mr. Klooster to purchase a set of small moveable bleachers to place at the HS Track for a cost not to exceed $6000.
In January the board had requested that Mr. Klooster place the architect contract on the agenda for February. Mr. Klooster subsequently explained the process the Board would need to go through to contract with a new architect and the Board directed him to start the process. He also recommended that the technology coordinator contract for services, should not be finalized until the board made a determination on how they wanted to proceed with respect to the Curriculum Coordinator job responsibilities for next year.
Moving to new business, the board voted to approve a FY13 District calendar that would provide for the first day of student attendance on Monday, Aug 20th. Semester 1 would end on Dec. 21st. Semester 2 student attendance would begin on Jan. 8 and Semester 2 would end on May 24. Students would attend school on Lincoln’s Birthday and Pulaski Day, but not Presidents’ Day. Spring Break would include Good Friday and the week following Easter. Emergency days would be placed at the end of the year.
The board voted to trade in two 1-year old, 24HP, JD 1435 tractor/mowers with 60” decks and two smaller 4-year old JD X300 mowers. The Board accepted a proposal from Kleine Implement in Bradford for a total trade-in cost of $9600. The Board also agreed to update to 72” mower decks on the 1435’s for an additional total of $900.
Following an executive session, the board voted to: accept Mrs. Mary McMillen’s notice of intent to retire at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, accept Mrs. Christina Howard’s resignation as SCHS Student Counsel Sponsor effective at the end of this school year, accept the resignations of Jennifer Wagenbach and Rebecca Herridge as JH Cheerleading Sponsors effective at the end of this school year and accept the verbal resignation of Michelle Schisler as district bus driver effective immediately. The board also voted to employ Jackie Colgan as Musical Director. (A correction in job title only) and approve a request to reduce the length of a students extracurricular suspension from twelve to six months per the student handbook.
Possible items for the March board meeting include; Possible RIF’s and/or non-re-employs of certified and/or non-certified staff, Possible approval of bus bids, Committee Reports, Updates.