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Board Approves Resurfacing Project

The Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23 Board of Education called their regular meeting to order on June 20, 2022 at 5:00 PM in the grade school learning center.  All members were present except for Aaron Wilham and Ashley Combs.

After Roll Call, the Board entered into Executive Session to discuss items dealing with employment, compensation and the evaluation of staff.  The Board returned to open session at 6:08 PM.

Under Recognition of Public, Mike Chandler addressed the Board with global concerns and Dennis Stoll offered his support for the district band and music programs.

The Consent Agenda included the approval for the payment of bills, the sales tax report, meeting minutes from May 16, 2022 and May 16, 2022 Executive Session minutes.  Superintendent Lamkey informed the Board that sales tax revenues reported for January exceed $30,000 for Logan County.  In addition, the Consent Agenda included renewed approval for the E-Learning Plan, District Consolidated Plan and the Destruction of Executive Session recordings over 18 months old.  The E-Learning Plan is a renewal of the plan the district currently uses on emergency days when weather or events make attendance unsafe.  The District Consolidated Plan is an application to the Illinois State Board of Education that qualifies the district for grants and other funding.  The final item, destruction of Executive Session Recordings is mandated by policy to be considered every 6 months. The Consent agenda passed 5-0.

Under Reports, Mr. Lamkey took questions on the Superintendent Report and informed the Board of a FOIA request by James Kelly Law Firm concerning an injury that took place during school construction.  He also took time to discuss that the district’s focus for the upcoming year was to develop systems that lead to data driven instruction.  This step will involve summer professional development along with ramped up collaboration amongst staff.  The Discipline Report yielded no entries.

In Unfinished Business, MPHS Prom Sponsor, Michele Clark, addressed the Board about the funding of Prom.  After listening to Mrs. Clark’s thoughts, the Board directed Mrs. Fricke to work with Mr. Lamkey on a recommendation for funding Prom moving forward.

The Board considered approval of the winning bid for the grade school and high school paving project.  The current pavement is in excess of 50 years old with considerable deterioration at both the grade school and high school.   The project includes milling the grade school playground and high school parking lot, creating a foundation of rock, pouring a new surface as well as creating a new entrance to the high school parking lot off of Cooke Street.  The project came in 23% higher than the previous budget and required additional considerations before approving.  The Board approved the paving project 4-1.  Work will begin in July.

Leading New Business, the Board approved the amended budget 5-0.  There was very little that needed to be amended and Mr. Lamkey added that the district revenues exceeded the budget's expectations.  The district is in position to fulfill items on the Capital Projects list while maintaining safe margins in the district’s funds and providing for the instructional needs of students and staff.

At last month’s meeting, two people from Top Hat Wind Farm presented the proposed project to the Board which will add 40 turbines to the east of Mt. Pulaski.  This month the Board considered a resolution supporting the project which passed 5-0.

Mrs. Fricke presented an option to the Board to provide a “Zero Hour” Calculus Class to accommodate students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to take the class.  The addition of a dual credit high school math course intrigued 26 students to participate, reducing the number of students in Calculus.  The only way to fit Calculus in the schedule was to schedule it outside of the traditional day.  The Board directed Mr. Lamkey to seek a memorandum of understanding with the Mt. Pulaski Education Association that would allow this course to be taught.  President Cowan will collaborate in the process.  The MoU will be considered at the next meeting of the Board.

Delavan School District reached out to Mt. Pulaski to seek help in teaching Spanish in their district.  Delavan has a Spanish Teaching vacancy and has no applicants.  The request was to conduct synchronous instruction with Mt. Pulaski through our Distance Learning Classroom.  The Board discussed the opportunity with Mrs. Fricke with some concerns that it could negatively affect our student instruction.  The Board directed Mrs. Fricke to investigate the opportunity further and to report back to the Board in July for further consideration.

The Board then discussed equity in the course work that requires students to pay fees.  LTEC students are required to pay $50 fees and the remaining $1450 is paid by the district, but students who take dual credit courses pay the entire per credit hour cost.  After a good deal of discussion, the Board chose to maintain the current district philosophy on fees.  Students taking dual credit course work with staff will do so for free, while students who take course work with local colleges will pay for the tuition.

Mrs. Lora then presented options on displaying athletic banners in the MPGS Gymnasium.  At this time, there is not enough room to display the current banners and there are also missing banners from previous teams that made state tournament runs.  Mrs. Lora received input from the Board and will work with the same vendor, BSN, who created and hung the banner at the high school.  Mrs. Lora will have a recommendation at the next meeting.

One of the most challenging aspects of maintaining instruction in our schools is the shortage of substitute teachers.  This shortage has caused area schools to raise the daily rate at which substitutes are paid.  This spring three Lincoln schools raised the daily rate to $125.  In order to stay competitive in the pursuit of substitutes, the administration recommended the rate be increased to match the new rates in Lincoln.  The motion passed 5-0.

In October, the district copier lease will expire which compelled Mr. Lamkey to seek new contracts.  Three area companies submitted bids with Digital Copy Systems coming in with the low bid.  DCS has served the district for the last ten years providing dependable machines and great service.  The new contract will save the district nearly $3000/year compared to the previous contract.  The Board approved DCS 5-0 with a 5 year contract.

The Federal Government has mandated that the school uninstall the surveillance equipment at the high school because it was discovered to be connected to spyware.  The replacement price of this system is just under $150,000.  The school district can utilize ESSER III money for this necessary revamp.  The district also considered a surveillance upgrade at the grade school that would cost just under $120,000.  After the discussion, the Board approved both plans in the spirit of student safety.  Mr. Lamkey will be seeking grants and the use of ESSER funds to pay for the projects.  Both items passed 5-0.

Mrs. Fricke next explained the changes to the high school course handbook for next year.  The Board approved the changes 5-0.

The School Board attends a professional development conference every year sponsored by the Illinois Association of School Administrators, the Illinois School Board Association and the Illinois Association of School Business Officers.  In an act of transparency, the district is required to report expected expenditures to the public.  If all 7 Board members attend, the total expenses will be approximately $13,000.  This expense report was approved by the Board 5-0.

The MPGS altered math instruction and curriculum last year for grades K-5.  With this change in instructional practices comes a need to change how students are assessed.  Starting next year in math, students in grades K-5 will be assessed through standards based grading.  Instead of students being assigned letter grades, parents will receive reports on the students' progress toward specific standards.  This practice will allow parents and teachers to have clearer conversations about student progress and allow for improved instruction.  The Board asked Mrs. Lora to present more data and involve more families in the process.  The Board voted to not move to standards based grading by turning down the agenda item 2-3.

The final item under New Business involved the Order of Administrative Succession in the district.  School district policy requires that a written plan be in place for when administrators are out of the district.  The top of the plan entails the principals and superintendent covering for each other when someone is out of the district or incompacitated.  The plan passed 5-0.

The Board voted 5-0 to approve the Personnel Report.

The following resignations were tendered:

  • Hannah Reeser as MPGS Paraprofessional

  • Brian Erlenbush as MPGS Boys Basketball Coach

  • Blane Olson as 5/6th Grade Boys Basketball Coach

  • Kristi Olson as MPGS Cheer Coach

  • Donna Koehler as MPHS Yearbook Sponsor

  • Ryan Deibert as MPHS Track Assistant Coach

  • Anna Beckers as Board Recording Secretary

  • Ron Schaffenacker as Bus Driver

The new hires included:

  • Kathryn Carter as Junior High Science Teacher

  • Janette Cooper, Alora Goody and Morgan Lolling as MPGS Paraprofessionals

  • Jamie Anderson, Jenna Kloba, Jamie Selinger, Michael Copley and Wyatt Waterkotte as New Teacher Mentors

  • Mark Graue and Ethan Payne as Summer Custodians

  • Morgan Lolling as MPGS and MPHS Assistant Volleyball Coach

  • Chris Wilson as MPHS Volunteer Assistant Soccer Coach

  • Jamie Selinger as MPHS Assistant Soccer Coach

  • Tim Milligan as MPHS Volunteer Baseball Coach

  • Jonathon Tribler as MPJH Boys Basketball Coach

  • Sarah Farris as Board Recording Secretary

In two separate personnel items included the hiring of Sam Brown as MPHS Cheer Coach and Assistant MPGS Softball and Chris Brown as Volunteer Assistant Girls MPGS Basketball coach.  These motions passed 4-0-1.

The Board adjourned at 10:13 PM.  The next meeting will be July 18, 2022 at 6:00 PM.