The Mount Pulaski Board of Education met for the February 18th regular meeting at 6:00 PM in the district office located at Mount Pulaski Grade School. All Board members were in attendance less Rob Smith and Doug Martin. Mr. Smith did participate via cell phone. No members of the audience chose to address the Board, but Superintendent Lamkey did recognize the work of Heather Fricke in establishing the new website format.
The Board began the meeting by approving the Consent Agenda which included payment of bills, sales tax revenue report, regular board meeting minutes and executive session minutes from January 21st. There were no questions on the Consent Agenda.
Under Reports, Mr. Lamkey first reported that favorable bids were delivered to the district for asbestos abatement in the 1963 high school building. Bids were $40,000 less than what was budgeted and will allow for a nice cost savings. Mr. Lamkey also learned from Regional Office of Education #17 Superintendent Mark Jontry that the governor will be revealing the state’s budget later this month, but it will have two parts hinging on state income tax reform. If income tax reform does not take place, we may be looking at budget cuts across the state. Lastly, Mr. Lamkey informed the Board that the district would be participating in a Bus Active Shooter Drill sponsored by Regional Office of Education #17.
Superintendent Lamkey then addressed the board on equalized assessed valuation, fund balances, enrollment trends, staffing and capital projects. The theme of the presentation was to acknowledge increasing local revenues due to windfarms, but also to understand that construction costs and additional constraints of educating students would still require careful budgeting, patience and a commitment to prioritizing district needs. The district is most definitely in sound financial shape and poised for instructional and curricular growth in the upcoming years, but our growth requires careful planning. That planning begins on February 22nd with the district Strategic Planning Meeting.
Three Freedom of Information Act requests were presented to the district office. Two requests were from the Illinois Times concerning personnel files and the other was a request for contact information of retiring district staff members by the Illinois Retired Teachers Association.
Under New Business, the Board approved the second reading and adoption of four final pieces of policy from the November update. Two items involved the accelerated placement of elementary students and the admission of transfer students from non-district schools. The policy approval signifies that the district has plans in place to accommodate both scenarios. The other two items included exhibits on entering closed sessions and the schools commitment to prohibiting sexual harassment. The Board adopted the policies as presented 6-0.
Next, the district renewed the agreement with the Lincolnland Technical Education Center which allows Mt. Pulaski students to participate in vocational instruction they may not be able to obtain in district. The Board approved the agreement 6-0.
Mr. Lamkey then presented the district’s options on purchasing electricity. Because of deregulation, citizens, businesses and public entities may select alternate service providers for electricity in an effort to create a more competitive market. Mt. Pulaski Schools entered into such an agreement two years ago which will expire this spring. Superintendent Lamkey entered into negotiations with two separate brokers this winter, finally recommending the district sign with Future Green who provided the least expensive contract with potential for further savings down the road. It is estimated the district could save over $4000/per year with this new contract. The Board voted 6-0 to contract ENGIE Resources, LLC as a part of the agreement with Future Green.
The Board then confirmed a change order in the high school construction project that would add an additional handicap accessible, single occupancy restroom, as well as amenities in the Ante Room that would allow water access. The total cost of the change order is expected to be over $40,000. The Board approved this motion 6-0.
The 2020-21 Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23 District Calendar was also approved by the Board. Highlights of the calendar include a post Labor Day start for students, a shortened Christmas Break, five additional half-day school improvement dismissals and a June 4th scheduled date for the last day of school. The changes in the calendar were designed to accommodate contractors for construction and increase the opportunity to have instructional classrooms completed for the start of the school year. The Board will seek a more traditional school calendar for Mt. Pulaski schools for the 2021-22 school year after construction is completed. The calendar was approved 6-0.
The Student Assessment Team was also formally approved by the Board, 6-0. This team will evaluate student needs and assess threats to the schools as needed. Members of the team will attend a training provided by Regional Office of Education #17 later this month. Team members include teachers, school counselors, school psychologist, school social workers, building administrators and local law enforcement.
The Board’s final action of the evening was to approve the Personnel Report which included MPHS Girls Volleyball Coach Donna Dulle, MPHS Soccer Coach Rob Siebert, MPGS Baseball Coach Troy Burgard and MPGS Softball Coach Travis Lingafelter. Additionally, Leah Varvel was approved as MPGS Student Council Advisor. All items were approved 6-0.
The Board then entered Executive Session to discuss the employment and evaluation of staff returning open session 7:17 PM. Following Executive Session, under Other Business, the Board discussed the Illinois Association of School Boards spring dinner meeting with three members committing to attend, Mrs. Mott, Mr. Cowan and Mr. Smith. Other members in attendance needed to check their calendar, but were interested in attending. The Board then discussed a request by student’s family to alter the date of 8th grade graduation. Discussion included conflicts created by the calendar adjustments for the high school construction, consequences of changing dates that had previously been announced and in general what was best for the students involved. The Board acknowledged the difficulty of the decision, as there were varying opinions of solutions. Superintendent Lamkey was directed to follow up with building administration and confirm a date and time that were in the best interest of participants.
The meeting adjourned at 7:43 PM. The next meeting will be on Monday, March 16, 2020 in the district office at the Mt. Pulaski Grade School.