Board Approves Instructional Coach Positions
The Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23 Board of Education called their regular meeting for March 15, 2021 to order at 5:00 PM in the high school media center. All Board members were present with the exception of Mr. Martin.
The first item of business was a brief presentation by Ace Sign Company and Firewatch in regard to the potential purchase of a digital marquee sign at the high school entrance. The Board then moved the meeting to the high school entrance to see a model sign and the different options available. Later in the meeting under new business the Board directed Superintendent Lamkey to move forward with formal sign quotes for the consideration of the Building and Grounds Committee. The Building and Grounds Committee will then make a recommendation to the Board as soon as the April regular meeting on April 21st. Partial funding for this project was made available by a private donor.
There were three observers in attendance for the meeting representing the student council and instructional staff, but none of the guests chose to speak.
The first item of business was the Consent Agenda, which included the approval for the payment of bills, the sales tax report, meeting minutes from February 17, 2021 and executive session minutes from February 17, 2021. Superintendent Lamkey informed the Board that sales tax revenues reported for March were $22,021.53 which topped the month's previous high of $21,693.72 in 2019. He felt this was a good sign of an improving economy in the pandemic. The motion passed unanimously.
Under Reports, Mr. Lamkey summarized changes in athletic attendance mitigations, the districts quarantine status and progress on equipping the MPHS Training Room. Superintendent Lamkey then focused on the outstanding turnout for the 5 Essentials Survey. Both the grade school and high school reported a 98% response rate for students and a 100% response rate for staff. The high school boasted a 54% return from parents while the grade school tallied 41%. All of these responses doubled the return rates needed to provide validity to the survey results. Mr. Lamkey attributed this success to the strong relationships among Board members, administration, staff, students and our community. The data from the 5 Essentials survey will be used to inform the 2021-22 School Improvement Plans at the grade school and high school.
Next President Cowan and Superintendent Lamkey presented a draft of the Capital Projects List which is set to be approved later this spring. Items on the list include completing work on high school construction, which includes a joint venture with the City of Mt. Pulaski to replace sidewalks, continued interior design work and the addition of a distance learning lab made available through a grant. The 10 Year Health Life Safety Audit also revealed the need to replace the gym roof in the near future. These items and future projects will be prioritized by the Building and Grounds Committee, who will make recommendations to the Board.
In Unfinished Business, the Board continued their monthly discussion on the pandemic which included an update on mitigation measures, quarantine numbers, graduation plans and the potential for moving to a full day of instruction. In the last week, the district has had one student and one teacher test positive for COVID-19, but no other staff members or students have been required to quarantine. The high school administration continues to consider a wide variety of plans for graduation, with a focus on in-person options. They will return with an announcement of plans for the April 21, 2021 regular meeting of the Board. Lastly, the Board offered input to the administration in consideration to extending to a full school day during the 4th quarter. The Board and administration discussed pros and cons of the proposed move. School district administration will announce a decision later this week.
The first action item of New Business was the approval of the Distance Learning Lab at the high school. The district will pay the upfront cost of $74,640 and then be reimbursed $63,640 upon completion of the project by a grant provided by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. This classroom will allow opportunities of seeking remote instruction around the country, and even the world, to provide more opportunities for students. The district hopes to have the lab up and running prior to summer break. Motion passed 6-0.
The Board then approved a Wrestling Cooperative Agreement with Warrensburg-Latham High School starting this spring. Mt. Pulaski will provide transportation and pay a proportional cost of the program in relation to the number of Mt. Pulaski students who participate. The agreements last two years and will then be reconsidered. This motion passed 6-0.
The Board then conducted a discussion on whether remote students should be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities when they do not attend in-person classes. After discussion, the Board directed Mr. Lamkey to meet with the Policy Committee to consider a policy that could potentially require in-person attendance to participate. The Policy Committee will consider the change in policy and make a recommendation at a future Board meeting.
The district administration then entered into a lengthy discussion with the Board on the recommendation to add Instructional Coaches to the district staff. Administrators explained the research and their experiences that fueled the recommendation to add these positions. The Board expressed some hesitation, but approved the job descriptions that the administration will use to seek new staff. The Board approved the job description 6-0.
In separate motions, the Board also approved the three year contracts for Mt. Pulaski Grade School Principal, Danielle Lora and District Superintendent Fred Lamkey. Both motions passed 6-0.
The Personnel Committee also presented Superintendent Goals for 2021-22, which were derived from the evaluation process. Upon review of the goals, the Board approved them 6-0.
The last item of business for the evening was the approval of the Personnel Report. One item, Ms. Tarrant’s retirement agreement was removed from the report and postponed to conduct a review of the language. This agreement is expected to be reintroduced at the April regular meeting. The Board then approved the Personnel Report which included the granting of tenure to Jamie Selinger and Krissy Mercer, Mindy Switzer as junior track coach, maternity leave for Kayleigh Parker and the resignation of Melinda Gross as Science Olympiad coach and Brady Thomas as high school golf coach.
The meeting adjourned at 8:00 PM and the next regular meeting will be Wednesday, April 21st. Please note the change in the date which was required to seat newly elected Board members.