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Principal Morgan Nominated for Award of Excellence

The Mount Pulaski Board of Education met June 22nd to conduct the regular meeting at approximately 6:10 PM in the Mount Pulaski Grade School Library.  All Board members were in attendance, less Mr. Wilham and Mrs. Mott. At 6:00 PM the Board first conducted a hearing for the transfer of funds from the Tort Fund to the Operations and Maintenance Fund.  Being that no public members communicated questions to the Board, the hearing was adjourned and the Board then conducted an Amended Budget Hearing.  Like the Transfer Hearing, no public members had communicated questions concerning the amended budget.  This hearing was also adjourned.

At 6:10 PM the Board opened the floor up for Recognition of the Public, prior to moving forward to the Consent Agenda.  Jody Lowe addressed the Board with continued concerns about the canceled Mexico trip that was set for this summer.  President Cowan directed Superintendent Lamkey and Principal Morgan to communicate with Mrs. Lowe to address her concerns.

Mr. Lamkey then informed the Board that high school principal, Terry Morgan, was nominated for the Illinois Principal Associations Award of Excellence.  Mr. Morgan, who is set to retire at the end of the upcoming school year, is one of five principals representing nine county high schools.  Voting will take place this summer to select the Principal of the Year from the Abe Lincoln Division.  President Cowan and the rest of the Board congratulated Mr. Morgan and wished him well with the award.

The Board began the meeting by approving the Consent Agenda which included payment of bills, approval of minutes from the April Board Meeting, sales tax revenue report and approval of memberships with IHSA and IESA.   There were no questions on the Consent Agenda as it was approved 5-0

In Unfinished Business, the Board discussed meeting dates, time and location for next school years meetings.  Superintendent Lamkey presented the Board with Monday and Wednesday night meeting options.  After a short discussion, the Board voted 5-0 for the traditional Monday night meeting option.  Board meetings for the 2020-21 school year will be held the third Monday of the month at 6:00 PM in the Mt. Pulaski Grade School Library unless otherwise posted.  The two exceptions will be the January and February meetings which will be held on the third Wednesday to avoid having meetings on state holidays.

Superintendent Lamkey then entertained questions on his report to the Board.  He noted that high school construction and district renovations are progressing extremely well.  We are on target to start school on September 8th with high school construction being nearly complete and new air conditioning being up and running at the grade school.

The Board then retreated to Executive session to discuss employment items with the administration, returning to open session at 7:07 PM.

Under New Business, the Board passed the previously discussed resolution authorizing the transfer of $150,000 from the Tort Fund to the Operation and Maintenance Fund to support high school construction costs.  The resolution passed 5-0. 

Next, the Board adopted the amended budget for the fiscal year 2020 to reflect the previously explained transfer of funds.  Superintendent Lamkey noted that he was comfortable with the district’s plans to pay for construction and renovation costs.  All district funds were operating in the black with all funds showing an increase in reserves except for IMRF/Social Security and the Tort Fund.  Typically, IMRF/Social Security Fund is levied at a rate that does not result in a surplus.  The Tort Fund finished lower as a result of the fund transfer.  Mr. Smith asked a question about tax abatement that was planned for this fall.  Superintendent Lamkey explained that the district made an early bond payment this month totaling $396,000 that shaved six years off the 20 year bond and also lowered interest rates.  The motivation of bond buyers to participate in this endeavor was receiving the nearly $400,000 six months earlier than the anticipated first December payment.  This created a great savings opportunity for the district.  The Board also plans to resolve to abate taxes this upcoming fall by $140,000 as promised during the referendum.

The Board also discussed the proposed alternate sale of bonds on future sales tax revenues.  Mr. Lamkey proposed that the district sell $2.5 million in bonds over the next 20 years to help pay for the high school construction project.  He felt that this amount would offer safeguards in covering construction costs that would allow the district to keep comfortable reserves that would not allow interruptions in day to day business of the district.  After much discussion, the Board recommended going up to $3.5 million in bond sales to offer extra insurance that the district was sound financially as they navigate construction costs.  The Board felt confident in this decision based on the premise that the district could pay off the bonds at an earlier date without penalty and the belief that interest rates will be favorable.  Superintendent Lamkey was directed to look into this option and report back to the board.  The district plans to sell the bonds following the July 20th board meeting.

Mr. Lamkey then introduced the Board’s anticipated expenditure report for the Fall Joint Annual Conference.  The Illinois State Board of Education requires districts to make board professional development expenditures public in the spirit of transparency.  Because of pandemic restrictions, it is potentially doubtful the conference will take place, but it is still necessary for the Board to anticipate attendance.  The expenditure report passed 5-0.

High school English Language Arts teachers, Mrs. Koehler and Mrs. Selinger, researched programs to replace the current 19 year old program.  The teachers met with Principal Morgan and Mr. Lamkey in June to discuss the potential purchase.  After appropriately vetting the new program, Mr. Morgan and Mr. Lamkey both agreed it was in the districts best interest to move forward with the purchase, which is a six year agreement.  The Board approved the purchase 5-0.

Superintendent Lamkey then recommended the Board approve a $33,000 project that would replace the ceiling and lighting in three second floor classrooms of the 1963 building.  Mr. Lamkey felt that in the scope of this construction project, it didn’t make sense to leave this section of the building partially renovated.  The ceiling and light renovation combined with the recent flooring projected offers a needed update.  The motion passed 5-0.

Mr. Morgan and newly hired grade school principal Mrs. Lora updated the Board on the buildings draft plans to reopen school later this summer.  The district is anxiously waiting guidelines from the State Board which will frame how the district will conduct business this school year.  While the administration expects to start school with students present in the buildings, building leadership teams have planned for different scenarios, including remote learning and combinations of remote learning and student attendance.  Superintendent Lamkey applauded the effort by the building leadership teams and endorsed their plans moving forward.

The next two action items included approving American Central Insurance as the districts health benefit provider as well as the districts property and casualty carrier.  Superintendent Lamkey informed the Board he would shop insurance options for the FY2021 year to make sure services and premium costs remained competitive.  Both actions passed 5-0.

Mr. Lamkey and Mr. McVickers then proposed that the district consider purchasing equipment and a subscription to the National Federation of High School Network which would enable the district to place cameras in each gym that would allow all home district indoor events to be streamed online.  In addition, it would allow subscribers to watch away games at school that also have the system.  The interest in the NFHS Network was spurred by the potential of student athletes playing games with no spectators due to pandemic restrictions.  The network would allow families and community members to have an option to view games when attendance is not possible.  The Board approved the NFHS Network 5-0.

Mr. McVickers and Mr. Morgan then offered IHSA endorsed waivers for the Boards to approve. These waivers allow coaches to have contact time with athletes this summer that follow state approved guidelines.  The Board approved the waivers 5-0.

The last items of the evening were a lengthy Personnel Report which predominately involved extra-curricular positions, but did include three new grade school para-professional hires.

The Board approved the following candidates for hire and one resignation:

  •  Letter of Resignation from Don Helm MPHS Golf Coach
  • Lilly Pickett MPHS Paraprofessional
  • Chelsea Irwin MPGS Paraprofessional
  • Megan Creager MPGS Paraprofessional
  • Clayton Lindley MPGS Paraprofessional
  • Ryan McVickers MPHS Girls Basketball Coach
  • Joel Washko MPHS Baseball Coach
  • Travis Lingafelter MPHS Softball Coach
  • Ryan Deibert MPHS Track Coach
  • Jamie Anderson MPGS Track Coach
  • Bethany Dulle MPHS Assistant Volleyball Coach
  • Nathan Sowers MPHS Assistant Soccer Coach 
  • Troy Burgard MPHS Assistant Baseball Coach
  • Rex Tschantz MPHS Assistant Softball Coach
  • Meg Meeker MPGS Assistant Softball Coach
  • Chris Caslin MPGS Volunteer Assistant Softball Coach
  • Gale Clark MPGS Assistant Baseball Coach
  • Charley Miller MPGS Assistant Girls Basketball Coach
  • Bethany Dulle MPGS Assistant Volleyball Coach
  • Calob Pluhm MPHS Co-Drama Club Sponsor

The above motions passed 5-0.  The following motions were made separately because they involved Board members as volunteer coaches:

  • Doug Martin MPGS Volunteer Assistant Boys Basketball Coach
  • Chris Brown MPGS Volunteer Assistant Girls Basketball Coach

The two final motions also passed 4-0 with one vote of present.

Being that there was no other business, the Board adjourned at approximately 8:20 PM.

The next meeting will be on Monday, July 20, 2020 in the Mt. Pulaski Grade School Library.