Board Tours Construction Site and Approves Plans for Lobby
The Mount Pulaski Board of Education met for the April 20th regular meeting at 5:00 PM in the cafeteria located at Mount Pulaski High School. All Board members were in attendance, including Rob Smith who participated in the meeting through video streaming. The Board began the meeting at an earlier time to conduct a tour and receive an update from the district’s architect (Graham and Hyde) and high school construction contractor (CORE). The tour of the construction site lasted about 45 minutes before the Board returned to the cafeteria for an update on the project.
At 6:15 PM the Board opened the floor up for Recognition of the Public. Jody Lowe addressed the Board with concerns about Mrs. Grunder sponsoring a trip to Mexico that was to take place late this spring. The Board directed Mr. Lamkey to communicate with Ms. Lowe on the matter. Next the following visitors spoke to the Board in support of Mari Neberieza as the varsity girls basketball coach: Emma Alyesworth, Xzandria Turner, Chrissy Fitzpatrick and Michelle May. Shelly Daigh also addressed the Board in opposition of renewing Coach Neberieza’s contract as varsity girls basketball coach. In addition, the following people submitted letters in support for Coach Neberieza; Riley May, Wendi Roberts, Megan Walsh, Travis Lingafelter, Morgan May, Abigail Fitzpatrick, Kathlyn McClain, Tricia Aylesworth, Maddie Roberts, Julie DeSutter, Malaika Williams, Jim Birge, Robb May, Dianne Birge, Garrett Fitzpatrick, Robin Stotler, Ryan Davis and Clarissa Turner. Letters not supporting Coach Nebrieza were submitted by Tanker Wade and Kate Eskew. Coach Nebrieza also sent a communication to the Board which was read at the conclusion of Recognition of the Public. Due to Board Policy 2:230 Public Participation at School Board Meetings and Petitions to the Board, the Board will spend no more than 60 minutes time on Public Recognition, the Board was unable to read all communications, but all participants were recognized.
The Board began the meeting by approving the Consent Agenda which included payment of bills, approval of minutes from February and March Board Meetings and sales tax revenue report. There were no questions on the Consent Agenda.
In Unfinished Business, the Board discussed tax abatement as it relates to the high school construction referendum. Mr. Martin stated the Board previously approved a resolution stating the district would apply a $140,000 donation from the windfarm toward tax abatement. The Board then directed Superintendent Lamkey to work with the County Clerk to begin this process.
The Board then retreated to Executive session to discuss employment items with the administration, returning to open session at 8:34 PM.
Under New Business, the first two actions of the Board were to complete and approve the second reading of the March Policy Update and then adopt the Policy Update as presented. Both actions passed 7-0.
The Board then addressed the temporary suspension of district policy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This primarily involves the Open Meetings Act allowing the Board to declare a quorum through video streaming, telephone or actual attendance. The intent is to return to past practices once the pandemic allows. This item passed 7-0.
Earlier in the evening, Kevin Handy and Ben Docter from Graham and Hyde Architects presented a rendering of additions to the construction plan concerning display cases and the gym doors. The Board voted 7-0 to approve the change order.
The district has passed the halfway point in the high school construction project and our attention now turns to paying for the work that is complete. The $10 million bond referendum covers two-thirds of costs, but district reserves and future revenues will be needed to finish paying for the project. There is some concern that sales tax revenues could be lower than expected and there is potential for tax payments to be delayed because of the pandemic. Mr. Lamkey recommended the Board investigate selling bonds under the expectation of future revenues to be gathered from the county sales tax program. The selling of these bonds will not increase tax costs to anyone; rather it will guarantee payment of bonds through future anticipated earnings from sales tax. This money would then be used to complete payment of the construction project in the potential absence of anticipated revenues. The Board directed Mr. Lamkey to work with First Midstate to investigate the possibility of conducting a bond sale. Mr. Lamkey will report back to the Board in May.
Board President Eric Cowan then solicited help from two Board members to work with the High School Student Council to collaborate in the selection of items for the time capsule. Mr. Lamkey volunteered to facilitate a discussion between the two groups. The time capsule will be placed in a compartment near the cornerstone located in the northeast corner of the new construction.
The final action items in New Business dealt with personnel. The Board voted to accept the resignation of Jamie Selinger as co-Drama Club Sponsor and the coach’s contract renewal of Ryan Deibert as varsity boys’ basketball (7-0), Brian Erlenbush as junior high boys’ basketball (6-0), Jamie Anderson as junior high girls’ basketball (6-0) and Donna Dulle as junior high girls’ volleyball (7-0). The Board voted to 2-5 to renew Mari Neberieza for varsity girls’ basketball.
In Other Business, the district selected to support the senior sign campaign. Mr. Lamkey also informed the Board that the MPHS Building Leadership Team had selected alternative graduation options and building administrators would be meeting this week discussing options in closing out the school year. The meeting adjourned at approximately 9:15.
The next meeting will be on Monday, May 18, 2020 in the district office at the Mt. Pulaski Grade School.