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July BOE Update
July BOE Update
Sarah Farris
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Mount Pulaski Board of Education met July 20th to conduct the regular meeting at 6:00 PM in the Mount Pulaski Grade School Learning Center.  All Board members were in attendance.

The Board opened the floor up for Recognition of the Public, prior to moving forward to the Consent Agenda.  High school social science teacher, Brian Erlenbush, updated the Board on the status of the Washington DC trip.  The tour company is once again booking trips, but Mr. Erlenbush recommends that the school remain patient in selecting another trip due to social unrest across the nation as well as pandemic concerns.  If families wish to collect refunds, they may receive approximately $1800 of a $2500 investment.  Mr. Erlenbush plans to wait until later this year to make a recommendation for moving forward.  His plan is supported by the administration and Board.

The Board began the meeting by approving the Consent Agenda which included payment of bills, approval of minutes from the June Board Meeting and sales tax revenue report.   There was one question on the Consent Agenda concerning a $1500 payment to Burdick Plumbing.  This payment was the result of an exploratory internal look at the grade school gutter system as it potentially related to flooding in the junior high basement this spring. The inspection did not show any signs of damage in the drainage system.  Superintendent Lamkey also pointed out that revenues from the County Sales Tax have declined during the pandemic by about $4000/month.  The Board passed the Consent Agenda 7-0.

Superintendent Lamkey then entertained questions on his report to the Board.  He noted the success of creating the district vision statement, mission statement, core beliefs and motto at a meeting earlier this week.  He and the attending board members, Mr. Cowan and Mrs. Mott, were very pleased with the process and results. 

Vision Statement:

We are an innovative, high-performing community that produces globally-minded, influential citizens.

Mission Statement:

We engage and inspire students to become mindful and productive citizens promoting growth and success for all.

Core Belief Statements:

We believe:

Student-centered decision making is our top priority.

All people will feel safe, welcome and valued in our schools.

Integrity, diversity and respect for all is imperative.

Students will be challenged by rigorous curriculum and instruction.

A strong partnership among parents, community and school is essential.

Parent involvement is critical to student success.

Opportunities and encouragement for continuous improvement are integral for success.

Slogan:

Inspire-Engage-Empower

Under New Business, the Board considered a resolution that would set parameters on an alternate bond that was approved at the June Regular Board Meeting.  The final sale of the $2.5 bond will be approved by Superintendent Lamkey and President Cowan upon a successful review.  The money from this bond sale will be used to pay construction costs associated with the high school.  David Pistorius from First Midstate was present to explain the terms of the bond and answer questions.  The resolution was adopted with a 7-0 vote. 

Next, the Board conducted the second reading of the board policy update provided by PRESS Plus.  Policy Committee Members Mr. Wilham and Mr. Brown summarized the policy changes with an emphasis on board policy 7:190 Student Behavior and 4:180 Pandemic Preparedness.  Policy 7:190 discussed the restraint of students in school and Policy 4:180 adjusted policy changes resulting from the current pandemic.  The second reading and adoption of the policy update each passed 7-0.

The Board then approved the transfer of funds from the Educational Fund to the Debt Service Fund to pay for the early payment on principal for the bonds sold for the high school project.  The funds used in this transfer will be replaced in December once the district officially begins payment on said bonds.  This motion passed 7-0.

Superintendent Lamkey then asked the Board to approve the Risk Management Plan for FY2021.  It is the intent of the district office to conduct a time study, if circumstances allow.  This time study will allow the district to revise salaries that are paid through the Tort Fund.  The plan was passed by a 7-0 vote.

Next, Principal Morgan and Principal Lora recapped changes in the Teacher Handbook for the upcoming year.  The handbook is designed to guide teachers through the day by day, week by week responsibilities of teachers in the district.  Both handbooks were passed 7-0.

Mr. Lamkey then presented the Coaches Handbook and Athletic Handbook to the Board for approval.  The primary changes to the Athletic Handbook included adding vaping as a restricted activity and new IESA guidelines for fan, player and coach ejections.  The only significant change to the Coaches Handbook involved adjustments to the evaluation process.  Once again, both handbooks passed 7-0.

The next action by the Board of Education involved amending the school calendar for the upcoming school year.  Recent guidelines provided by the state allowed the school to add five Remote Learning Professional Development days for the 2020-21 school year.  This amendment allows for two additional planning days to start the school year and three other planning days to be used in the second semester.  This adjustment to the calendar will allow Christmas Break to begin December 18th as opposed to the original date of December 22nd.  The calendar was amended 7-0.

The Board revisited school fees for the start of the school year.  The goal of the Board was to offer families a savings while also ensuring every student has access to personal devices at home for remote instruction.  They recommended ending the Personalized Learning Initiative Fee (PLI) of $50/student and $100 maximum/family.  The registration fees for all students were increased $25 to supplement costs for personal devices while still offering families a $25 savings.  This change will allow all students to take their devices home for remote learning work.  The administration was given the directive to move forward with this change and the Board will take action at the August Regular Board Meeting.

The last item of discussion for the evening concerned the district’s use of public facilities, namely Veterans Park and Frazier Park.  There is some concern among Board members that the district continues to sink money into properties they do not own.  Other members see the advantage of paying for improvements and repairs while not taking on the costs of owning the property.  Specifically, the Board discussed the potential upcoming costs for repairing plumbing in the Veterans Park concession stand.  The Board directed Superintendent Lamkey to locate the agreement signed with the park district in 2017 to gain guidance on this issue.

The last action item was the Personnel Report which included: 

  • Resignation of Kelly Solomon as grade school cook.
  • Hiring of Lisa Howard as high school cheer coach.
  • Hiring Brian Erlenbush as assistant high school track coach.
  • Hiring Jan Braden as high school girls’ basketball assistant coach.
  • Accepting Cary McVickers as volunteer assistant high school girls’ basketball coach.
  • Accepting Jennifer Adkison as volunteer high school assistant soccer coach. 

The report passed 7-0.

The Board entered into Executive Session at 7:38 PM to discuss the employment of staff and exited at 8:10 PM.

Under Items of Information, Superintendent Lamkey and Principal Morgan updated the Board on the districts plans to reopen school.  The Building Leadership Teams are recommending half day student attendance with remote learning activities in the afternoon.  Rationale for this plan includes:

  • Daily student attendance.
  • Reduced time students and staff will need to where personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • The development of improved remote learning practices for students and staff.
  • Omission of lunches eliminates time during the school day where students do not wear masks, reducing chances of exposure to COVID-19 and other airborne concerns.
  • Increased time for daily cleaning of facilities.
  • Adequate time for teacher contact with remote learners.
  • Adequate time for additional teacher planning required by remote teaching.
  • Additional opportunities to offer specific instruction to struggling and special needs students.

Because everything will be new to students and staff, it is important to select a plan that the Board, administration and staff can successfully navigate and maintain while allowing students to maximize learning time and achievement.  Any plan that is too complex has a greater chance of failure and the district wants to ensure student success, especially after the learning loss of last spring.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 PM.  The next Regular Meeting of the Mt. Pulaski Board of Education will be Monday, August 17th at 6:00 PM in the Mt. Pulaski Grade School Learning Center.