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August BOE Update
August BOE Update
Fredrick Lamkey
Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Mount Pulaski Board of Education met August 17th 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 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.  An additional item in the consent agenda was the motion to approve the Transportation Hazard which allows for extended bus service for the school district. The Board passed the Consent Agenda 7-0.

Superintendent Lamkey then entertained questions on his report to the Board.  He noted that the yearly audit was completed last week.  Gorenz and Associates will present findings to the Board at the October regular meeting.  A positive note from the audit included the school upgrading our Financial Recognition Score from 3.8 to 3.9 on a scale of 4.

The meeting then progressed to Unfinished Business where the Board discussed the district agreement with the Mt. Pulaski Park District.  At the July meeting, Mr. Lamkey was instructed to locate the agreement signed in 2017 between the school district and the park district.  After communicating with the park district, the two groups were unable to find a signed agreement.  Mr. Stu Erlenbush, a Mt. Pulaski Park District representative, provided an unsigned original copy to the district for review.  Superintendent Lamkey suggested the district continue the past practice of providing assistance to the park district for repairs on shared facilities.  After some discussion the Board consented to do this, specifically paying half of the repairs to the plumbing at the concession stand.  It was also decided to revisit the unsigned agreement with the Building and Grounds Committee so that a recommendation on a future agreement can be made.  No actions were necessary on this item.

The district next approved the district slogan, core beliefs, mission statement and vision statement that were presented in July.  These statements and beliefs will be the guiding force for Mt. Pulaski Schools as we navigate district and school improvement plans over the next five years.  The Board indicated in July the importance of making these statements and beliefs visible to the public, students and staff of Mt. Pulaski.  Superintendent Lamkey presented a design plan in the new high school that will promote these concepts.  The district will also investigate promoting these concepts through design at the grade school and in the district social media.  The slogan, core beliefs, mission statement and vision statement passed 7-0.

New Business revealed the topic of the meeting, The Hilltop Return to School Plan.  Superintendent Lamkey highlighted the process creating the plan as well as key components of the plan.  The district began planning for returning to school in early June when the state moved into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan.  The process involved a multitude of participants which included the District Leadership Team, Return to School Transition Team, MPGS Building Leadership Team, MPHS Building Leadership Team and district administration.  The goal was to involve students, parents, certified staff, non-certified staff, Board members and administration in the process so the district could make a comprehensive plan that had input of a variety of stakeholders.

During the past 6 weeks, building leadership teams shaped the specifics of what the plan would look like in each school.  Once their work was complete, the plan was put together by the administration and then vetted through the District Leadership Team which is composed of Board members, teachers and administration.  Highlights of the plan include:

  • Remote and Blended Learning options for students and families.
  • Blended Learning which includes daily in-person instruction from 8-11:30 AM five days/week.
  • Remote instruction students will participate in the same curriculum as blended learning students.  Remote instruction takes place from 8-11:30 AM and again from 1-3:00 PM.
  • All students are expected to participate in live in-person/remote morning instruction (8-11:30 AM) and afternoon remote instruction (1-3 PM) for a total of 5.5 hours of daily instruction.
  • Remote instruction and blended instruction will have identical accountability in grading, earning credits toward graduation/promotion and eligibility status.
  • Teachers will offer remote instruction for all students from 1-3 PM each afternoon, which will offer structured opportunities to expand instruction from the morning and also offer extended help to those students who need it.

The Hilltop Return to School Plan was designed to be fluid in that it allows the district to adapt to the regional phase status as well as the state of the pandemic in our specific area.  It is the districts intent to provide in-person instruction until:

  • Region 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan dips below Phase 4 restricting in-person instruction.
  • The district office, in collaboration with the Logan County Health Department, concludes that circumstances in our specific area are unsafe making the district unable to provide in-person instruction.

Or

The Board of Education, administration and staff of Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23 are committed to make every effort to offer in-person education while maintaining the safety of our staff, students and community.  The complete plan and more details will follow this week.  The Board approved the Hilltop Return to School Plan 7-0.

In conjunction with the Hilltop Return to School Plan, the Board also passed the COVID-19 Isolations, Quarantine and Return to School Guidance Plan.  This plan was originated by the district’s school attorney based on guidance from the CDC, IDPH and ISBE.  It was then vetted through the district nurse and Logan County Health Department, so that it is in accordance with all public entities.  This motion passed 7-0.

Next, Superintendent Lamkey discussed the CARES grant which was afforded by the federal government to supplement resources in the wake of the pandemic.  Mt. Pulaski Schools, including Zion Lutheran, received $51,000 in aide.  The districts have spent a good portion of this grant on need items such as additional cleaning supplies, masks for students and staff, cleaning equipment and technology to support remote instruction.

The Board then discussed construction finances revealing the district, as expected, would have right at $3 million dollars in additional construction costs to account for after construction and alternate bond revenues were applied.  The district office is confident that through current fund balances and additional revenues, the district can safely pay all construction debt and still maintain healthy fund balances for the upcoming year.  More will be discussed next month as Superintendent Lamkey presents the budget for the 2020-21 school year.

The Board also heard discussion on updating the districts’ 25 year old phone systems to VOIP.  Currently district teachers have no direct access to phones, which limits their ability to communicate with families.  In addition, the district is operating without voicemail as the office continues to use antiquated answering machines to conduct school business.  Siting student safety and better communication, the Board agreed with Superintendent Lamkey’s recommendation to replace the phone systems which will create a savings for the district after 5 years of implementation.  The contract was approved 7-0.

Superintendent Lamkey then informed that a tentative budget for the upcoming year was available in the district office.  The Board will consider formal approval of the FY2021 budget next month after a financial presentation by Mr. Lamkey.

The final action item of the evening was the Boards decision to hire Brady Thomas as the high school golf coach in a 7-0 vote.

The Board then entered Executive Session to discuss personnel matters.  The meeting adjourned at approximately 8:15 AM.