Board Approves Tax Levy
The Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23 Board of Education called their regular meeting to order on December 20, 2021 at 4:00 PM in the grade school learning center. All members were present with two members participating remotely.
Following Roll Call, the Board entered Executive Session at 4:07PM to discuss litigation against the school district and the purchase of property. The Board reemerged from executive session at 5:55 PM.
Recognition of Public included seven members in the audience, with 3 requesting to address the Board. All three members of the public addressed the Board with concerns about the mask mandate. The Board allowed all requesting members time to address the Board and then thanked them for their input.
The first item of business was the Truth in Taxation Hearing. Any time the district levies for more than 5% of the previous years Equalized Assessed Valuation, they must have a hearing. In order for the school district to collect tax on new property valuation, they must ask for the appropriate amount in the tax levy. If the district asks for too little, they can collect tax revenues that are available so there are no lost revenues. The district is not allotted what it levies for (asks for), instead they are given a specific amount based on the value of property in the district, which is determined by the county. In short, the district can ask for as much as it wants, but it is only going to get what the county allows through the assessed valuation of property. If it asks for too little, then the district will experience lost revenues. This year, the district is asking for a 14.61% increase in the total levy, but we are expecting the increase to be less than 5%. Final numbers will not be realized until this spring.
Consent Agenda, which included the approval for the payment of bills, the sales tax report, meeting minutes from November 15, 2021 & December 20, 2021 Executive Session minutes and the destruction of Executive Session Minutes from July 2019 through June of 2020. Superintendent Lamkey informed the Board that sales tax revenues reported for October was over $32,000. The 12 month total exceeds $300,000 which is an alltime high in total revenues. There were no additional questions on the consent agenda which passed 7-0
Under Reports, Mr. Lamkey highlighted the MPGS Girls Basketball teams success in the IESA State Tournament, the progress on the MPHS sidewalk and street light project as well as the district's litigation update. The 7th and 8th grade girls basketball teams both qualified for the Elite Eight with the 7th graders garnering 2nd place. The Board plans to invite both teams to be recognized by the Board in January. The MPHS sidewalk and light project is nearing an end as we can expect to have the light portion finished by the New Year. The litigation against the district is expected to hit the courtroom on January 5th. The district can expect to find the results of the court shortly after that hearing.
It was also reported to the Board that there was a FOIA request to the district concerning surety bonds and board by-laws. The request was completed within the allotted time constraints. The final report is a new report requested by the Board concerning district discipline. Superintendent Lamkey reported that the high school had three in-school suspensions in the last month while the grade school had none.
In Unfinished Business, Superintendent Lamkey presented on the 2021 Tax Levy. The district will levy $8,942,701, excluding the Bond and Interest funds which will be set by the county. The Board approved the 2021 Tax Levy with a 7-0 vote.
An item that was postponed from the November meeting concerning revising the Hilltop Return to School Plan 3.0 died from lack of a motion. The Board requested that Superintendent Lamkey and the Board Policy Committee reconsider revisions after IDPH releases new guidelines and the district litigation finishes up in January.
Under New Business, Mt. Pulaski’s mayor, Matt Bobell, informed the Board that the city was in the initial stage of considering the sale of Frasier Park. Since the school uses the park for softball, the city counsel wanted to inform the Board of their intent. The Board directed Superintendent Lamkey to work with Mayor Bobell on the details of the potential sale and the potential costs that may be incurred with such a purchase.
The next item on the agenda was the mask mandate. President Cowan stated that he felt no further conversation was necessary after hearing from the public concerning the issue. He also stated that he thought new information would be released to start the year that could affect aspects of the government mandates. Mr. Smith then followed up by stating that he understands the impatience of the public, but he reiterated that the district is working on the public concerns and that this just is not always obvious from the outside.
The Board then approved the resolution to pay debt service on General Obligation Bonds sold for the high school construction. Superintendent Lamkey announced that the district would abate the amount of the $140,000 donation from ENEL and then also abate an additional $44,000, reducing the public's tax payments on these bonds by 20%. The Board approved the resolution 7-0.
In the same manner, the Board considered a resolution to pay debt service for the alternate bonds purchased for school construction. These bonds are paid through money the district earns through sales tax revenues. The Board approved the resolution 7-0.
Superintendent Lamkey presented options on the district's bus lease, recommending the district go with Midwest Transit for a three year lease costing $162,263/year. Mrs. Mott asked if air conditioning was considered, but the Board decided to not include this option. The lease will begin July 1, 2022. The Board passed the motion 7-0.
The Board entered discussion to consider Capital Projects for next summer, which included MPHS 1963 Roof, MPHS 1963 Windows and the MPHS Parking Lot/MPGS Playground renovation. After extensive discussion, the Board directed Mr. Lamkey to seek requests for proposals for the roof and blacktop projects. It was also specified to have the demolition and construction of the blacktop projects to be split. The Board directed Superintendent Lamkey to work with the district architect to receive proposals on the project.
Superintendent Lamkey conducted his annual request for the Board to review his performance in the month of January. This serves as a mandated reminder to the Board to conduct the evaluation.
In the Personnel Report there were three items, including one resignation and two hires. The Board approved the report 7-0.
Jamie Jones resigned as the MPGS Administrative Assistant
Brooke Ciaccio was hired as the MPGS Yearbook Sponsor
Maddie Davis was hired as the MPGS Volunteer Assistant Volleyball Coach
The meeting was adjourned at 7:32 as Mr. Lamkey wished everyone a Merry Christmas.