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Board Repeals Return to School Plan

The Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23 Board of Education called their regular meeting to order on February 23, 2021 at 6:00 PM in the grade school learning center.  All members were present except for Mr. Martin.

After Roll Call, the Board recognized members of the public of which one chose to address the Board.  The Board thanked the individual for their input.

Consent Agenda, which included the approval for the payment of bills, the sales tax report, meeting minutes from January 19, 2022 and January 19, 2022 Executive Session minutes.  Superintendent Lamkey informed the Board that sales tax revenues reported for October was over $29,375 for Logan County and $332 for Sangamon County.  There were no additional questions on the consent agenda which passed 5-0 and one present.

Under Reports, Mr. Lamkey talked about the MPHS Varsity Girls Basketball team’s Regional Championship.  The girls lost a hard fought game at sectionals.  The MPHS Varsity Boy Basketball team plays St. Teresa tonight in Regionals at Decatur.  There were no further questions.

It was also reported to the Board that there were two FOIA requests to the district office. One was from the Illinois Retired Teachers Association requesting contact information for any teachers retiring this school year.  The other was from Mike Chandler requesting information about the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding. 

Mr. Lamkey then requested to move the discussion on vape sensors to the first item Under New Business to accommodate Principal Fricke so she could attend the MPHS Boys Basketball Regional game in Decatur.  Mrs. Fricke and Deputy Pharis spoke of the growing problem of students vaping in school restrooms and its negative effect on the student body overall.  Principal Fricke asked the Board to consider installing vape sensors in the restrooms to deter students from using them in the building.  The Board asked Superintendent Lamkey to work with Mrs. Fricke on the potential project.  It will be voted on at the March meeting.

Next, Mr. Lamkey fielded questions on the proposed school calendar for FY2023.  Mr. Lamkey highlighted the differences in this year's calendar, noting that school would start two days earlier for students on Wednesday, August 17th. Mr. Lamkey explained that students who had conflicts due to the State Fair were allowed to apply for pre-arranged absences which would be considered by the principals.  All interested students will be encouraged to participate in State Fair activities.  Other changes included the state mandated holiday for elections on November 8th and a non-attendance day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  The district will take a two week break over Christmas and a one week break the week prior to Easter.  The last day of student attendance will be May 26, 2021.  There were also questions about a necessary memorandum of understanding involving parent/teacher conferences in the fall.  Mr. Lamkey asked the Board to postpone the approval of the calendar until the memorandum of understanding could be completed between the Board and teachers union.  

The Board then postponed the next two action items of Approving the Reading of Press Policy Updates and Adopting Press Policy Updates.  The Policy Committee was unable to meet due to the girls sectional basketball game, so the policy update is not ready to be presented.  These items will be placed under Unfinished Business for next month's meeting.

Each winter, the Board approves the Joint Agreement Resolution with Lincolnland Technical Education Center (LTEC) which provides vocational opportunities for Mt. Pulaski High School students.  Mrs. Combs asked if the school could offer more vocational options for students in Mt. Pulaski.  Mr. Lamkey replied that the district did not have the staffing resources nor enough students to start up our own programs in the areas LTEC classes provide.  He also noted that we have a very strong vocational program for a district of our size.  The motion passed 6-0.

The Board then considered the repeal of the Hilltop Return to School Plan 3.0 (HRSP 3.0), which was approved last fall in response to the pandemic.  Due to litigation over the past two weeks, the quarantine and mask mitigation mandates have been determined to be illegal, giving control back to the school district.  After considering options, the Board repealed HRSP 3.0 which allows all mandated mitigations to expire.  The vote passed 6-0.

The Board then conducted a discussion about the costs incurred by students to attend prom.  Members talked about options that could help subsidize the costs to make the event more affordable for students.  Mr. Lamkey was directed to work with Mrs. Fricke to devise a plan that could supplement student costs to attend prom.

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’s concerns and it is not always obvious from the outside.

In the Personnel Report there were fifteen items, including three resignations and thirteen hires.  The Board approved the report 5-0 and 1 present:

  • Meg Baer resigned as MPGS Science teacher as of the last day of the 2022 school year.

  • Michelle Clark resigned as the MPHS National Honor Society Sponsor

  • Doug Martin resigned as the MPGS Assistant Boys Basketball Coach

  • The following hires were also approved:

    • Alvin Gilbert as MPHS Head Custodian

    • Colton Hagan as MPHS Night Custodian

    • Michael Stauffer as MPHS Student Custodian

    • Whitney Nichols as MPHS Volleyball Coach

    • Nathan Sowers as MPHS Soccer Coach

    • Ryan Deibert as MPHS Golf Coach

    • Troy Burgard as MPGS Baseball Coach

    • Gale Clark as the MPGS Assistant Baseball Coach

    • Evan Cooper as the MPGS Volunteer Assistant Coach

    • Travis Lingfelter as MPGS Softball Coach

    • Rex Tschantz as MPGS Assistant Softball Coach

    • Mackenzy Payne as MPGS Volunteer Assistant Softball Coach

    • Jamie Anderson as MPGS Girls Basketball Coach

Under Items of Information, Mr. Lamkey reminded the members that the IASB Spring Dinner Meeting was next Tuesday, March 1st in Middletown at New Holland-Middletown Grade School.

The Board then voted to enter Executive Session to discuss matters of litigation, employment and evaluation of specific staff at 7:28 PM and returned to open session at 8:46 PM.

The meeting adjourned at 8:47 PM.  The next meeting will be on Monday, March 21, 2022 at the MPGS Learning Center.