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May BOE Update
May BOE Update
Fred Lamkey
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Board Hires Food Service

On Monday, May 17th, the Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23 Board of Education met for the regular meeting at 5:30 PM in the Mt. Pulaski Grade School Learning Center. All seven Board members were present.

The Board started the meeting in Executive Session to discuss employment and benefit items and return to open session at 6:52 PM.

Under Recognition of Public, none of the ten visitors requested to address the Board.

The Board adopted the Consent Agenda which included approval of the payment of bills, sales tax revenue report, April 21 regular Board meeting minutes and the April 21 Executive Session minutes. The motion passed unanimously.

In reports, Mr.Lamkey fielded questions about the Superintendent Report before Mr. Smith and Mrs. Combs reviewed the most recent Personnel Committee Meeting   

In Unfinished Business, the Board discussed the current landscape of the pandemic, with specific discussion about mask mandates, vaccinations and graduation/promotion ceremonies.  The administration noted that each graduate would receive 10 tickets and each 8th grade student in promotion would receive 4 tickets for the events.  If special circumstances exist, Mr. Morgan and Mrs. Lora will work with families individually.

Next the Board entered into discussion on the memorandum of understanding with the teachers union that would allow the district administration to alter parent teacher conference practices.  Traditionally, conferences were held on a Thursday evening and Friday morning with teachers being dismissed after conferences ended the second day.  The new recommendation entails two evenings of conferences while teachers would have Friday off in return for working extended hours.  The administration is confident that this adjustment will allow for more families to attend parent/teacher conferences.  The Board approved the MoU and the calendar amendment unanimously.

The Board then considered the purchase of new Chromebooks for all students in grades 3-12 for next school year.  The remote work done by students and teachers this past year made administrators and teachers alike realize that iPads were not ideal for the student’s instructional needs.  The ESSER grants, made available by federal funding, will allow the district to upgrade student devices without spending local revenues.  The Board unanimously approved the purchase.  

Mrs. Fricke then continued last month's conversation about adjusting graduation requirements to include that all students must take three math classes in high school regardless of whether they earn an Algebra 1 credit in junior high.  The new graduation requirements passed 6-1.

The first item in New Business was to increase substitute teacher pay from $95 to $100 for next school year.  After a brief discussion of the limited availability of substitute teachers, the Board requested the daily wage be raised to $105.  The administration and Board hope the additional money will reward our current subs and encourage others to substitute teach in our district.  This motion passed unanimously.

During district and school improvement planning, the school district discovered a needed area of improvement, Social and Emotional Learning.  This spring, Mrs. Lora and Mrs. Fricke attended an event and researched a group called “Capturing Kids Hearts”.  This group has been in business for over 30 years and trains teachers on systems designed to improve teacher’s and student’s abilities to relate, communicate and develop healthy activities that improve social emotional support in everyday life.  The Board approved the training in a unanimous vote.

In back to back action items, the Board approved two previously discussed purchases, which include equipment for the new high school training room and a digital marquee for the high school campus.  Both motions were approved 7-0.

The Board then approved handbook changes for the upcoming school year in both the grade school and high school.  The changes were derived by adding legally required language and through committee meetings.  Both handbooks were passed unanimously.

The district office conducted a request for proposal for a food management program for the district.  Aramark and OPAA! were the two solicitors, with OPAA! being selected, having the low bid.  OPAA! will begin working with kitchen staff this summer and fall prior to students returning to school.  The district administration believes that OPAA! can provide more food options and better food at a lower cost. 

New Business, item H, was a discussion of replacing sidewalks and a retaining wall at the high school.  A plan has been devised with a price tag of $54,000.  The City of Mt. Pulaski has asked the school district to pay 50%.  The Board requested that the city and Building and Grounds Committee meet to discuss the project before considering approval of the funding.  This item was postponed until the June meeting.

The final item of New Business had the Board consider additional lights for the front of the high school building along Spring Street.  It had been reported that the northeast corner was very dark at night and for safety and security additional lighting was necessary.  The Board unanimously approved the purchase.

In the Personnel Report, President Cowan requested that the junior high and high school volleyball position be pulled separately to be voted on.  Items approved from the report included Jenny Mendenhall and Linda Smith as district instructional coaches, Michele Clark as Prom sponsor, Brian Erlenbush as junior high boys basketball coach, Jamie Anderson as junior high girls basketball coach, Ryan Deibert as high school boys basketball coach and Ryan McVickers as the high school girls basketball coach.  

The following resignations were also accepted, paraprofessionals Megan Creager, Lilly Pickett and Erin Alderson.  High school library clerk and year book sponsor Janette Cooper, high school soccer coach Rob Siebert and Chris Doherty as junior high scholastic bowl coach.

In separate votes, the Board approved Tammy McCormick as the district library clerk (7-0) and voted 4-3 to not renew the contract of Donna Dulle as junior high and high school volleyball for the upcoming year.

Mr. Lamkey reminded members to get back to him concerning the Board Conference just prior to adjourning at 8:04 PM.  The next regular meeting of the Board of Education will be held on Monday, June 21st.