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Board Discusses Pandemic and Bonds

The Mount Pulaski Board of Education met for the May 18th regular meeting at 6:00 PM in the Mount Pulaski Grade School Library.  All Board members were in attendance, but the audience was limited to Mt. Pulaski Education Association President Wyatt Waterkotte due to COVID-19 restrictions.  The Board conducted a Bond Hearing to allow for public input for the potential sale of Alternate Revenue Source Bonds at a later date.  The bond sale will not raise taxes for any stakeholders.  The bond sale is a loan against future county sales tax revenues and will not increase any tax rates.  The Board authorized the potential sale of these bonds because of concerns of future lost revenues due to the pandemic.  The authorization allows the Board the authority to sell bonds in a scenario in which lost revenues may hinder district operations.  Because the bond sale is related to sales tax revenues, all funding will be used to build, equip, alter and/or repair district facilities.  The bond authorization allows the Board a three year window to consider their sale.

At 6:05 PM the Board opened the floor up for Recognition of the Public.  Superintendent Lamkey circulated a thank you letter from the American Diabetes Association.

The Board began the meeting by approving the Consent Agenda which included payment of bills, approval of minutes from the April Board Meeting and sales tax revenue report.   There were no questions on the Consent Agenda.

In Unfinished Business, the Board revisited the Alternate Revenue Source Bonds as First Midstate Vice President David Pistorius explained the process and answered questions via Zoom.  Superintendent Lamkey then presented a forecast of the district’s finances with a focus of a conservative scenario of limited revenues that may require the district to consider the bond sale.  As for now, the bond sale remains an option for the district that the Board will revisit later this school year. 

Next in Unfinished business, the Board discussed the effects of the pandemic on past and present district practices.  Mr. Lamkey started the discussion by communicating the unprecedented nature of the pandemics effects on the education system.  He urged the Board to separate emotions from decision making and to be patient in the process knowing that our environment, government expectations and needs are constantly changing.  It is in our best interest to make well thought, researched and informed decisions as we press forward.

President Cowan commented that he thought it was important to begin planning for a wide variety of scenarios when considering how school may start in the fall.  Mr. Martin added that he felt students need to be provided with structured schedules if in home studies continued next school year so that teachers and students could better communicate.  Other comments from board members included the need for more accountability and improved accessibility to the internet.  Superintendent Lamkey said that he will convene the District Leadership Team as soon as our medical region advanced to Phase 3 which allows for in face meetings of 10 or fewer people.  After District Leadership sets parameters, Building Leadership Teams will then begin planning for how students may return to school this fall.  Mr. Lamkey will report back to the Board with updates this summer.

The Board then retreated to Executive session to discuss employment items with the administration, returning to open session at 8:04 PM.

Under New Business, the Board passed the previously discussed resolution authorizing the issuance of Alternate Revenue Source Bonds 7-0.  In addition, the Board agreed to raises for non-certified staff and bus drivers for the 2020-21 school year.  The raises were set in place with consideration to new minimum wage laws that require all workers to be making $11/hour by January 1, 2021.  The wage increase was approved 7-0.

The Board then approved the technology expenditure to purchase new MacBooks for all certified district staff.  The previous MacBooks had lived out their productive life and it was time to update the staff’s technology.  The Board approved the motion 7-0.

The next two action items were in reference to the 2020-21 Student Handbooks.  Each building conducted meetings involving administration, staff, parents and board representation.  Most changes revolved around correcting language, but some common practices were also added.  The high school handbook meeting also allowed for input from the Student Council which specifically involved changes to the dress code.  Mr. Lamkey commended Mr. Morgan and the high school handbook committee on seeking input from the student body.  The Board passed handbook changes for both schools 7-0.

The last action item on the agenda was the Personnel Report.  In the report, Sam Brown resigned from her positions as MPGS Para-Professional and Track Coach.  Mari Neberieza resigned as MPGS Para-Professional and MPHS Assistant Soccer Coach.  Lastly, Sarah Cooper and Janette Cooper each resigned as Prom Co-Sponsors.  All resignations were accepted 7-0 by the Board of Education.

 In Other Business, Mrs. Mott encouraged other Board members to participate in the Illinois Association of School Boards’ Spring Meeting on May 26th.  This is traditionally a dinner meeting, but due to the pandemic, it will be conducted on Zoom.  Lastly, Superintendent Lamkey presented the Board with two different meeting date options to consider for the upcoming school year.  The two choices highlighted conflicts with school events.  The Board will vote on future meeting dates and times at the June meeting.

The next meeting will be on Monday, June 22, 2020 in the Mt. Pulaski Grade School Library.