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Board Adopts 2020 Tax Levy

The Mount Pulaski Board of Education conducted their regular meeting on December 21st at 6:00 PM with all members in attendance.

Prior to the regular meeting, the Board conducted public hearings for truth in taxation and tuition waivers for district employees. In the Truth in Taxation Hearing, Jeff Beccue commented on the necessity of a balloon levy to ensure the district captures the new assessed valuation of the new wind farm.  He also encouraged the Board to look for opportunities to abate the high school construction bonds in order to lower property taxes.

Superintendent Lamkey read an email sent by Ann Olson concerning the tuition waiver for students of district employees who live out of district.  While citing the merit of such a waiver, Mrs. Olson encouraged the Board to allow the Mt. Pulaski Education Association (MPEA) to consider such a waiver through the collective bargaining process.  Mr. Beccue also commented that the Board should also consider past efforts between the Board and MPEA that encouraged teachers to live in the district.

Roll call was then taken for the November regular meeting at 6:10 PM with all members in attendance.

Jeff Beccue commented during Recognition of the Public to urge the Board to find better technology that allows more public participation during the pandemic.

The Board voted 7-0 to approve the Consent Agenda, which included payment of bills, sales tax revenue report, minutes from November, 2020 regular meeting, minutes from November 16, 2020 executive session and the destruction of executive session minutes.  Superintendent Lamkey also commented that the district sales tax revenues topped the $250,000 mark for the year.  This was significant because he was concerned this revenue stream may significantly decrease during the pandemic.

In Reports, Mr. Lamkey reported on a FOIA request form the IEA before highlighting his Superintendent Report.  In his report, he spoke of a donation to the school for the consideration of a new marquee sign, high school construction, the principal search and holiday celebrations in the buildings.

Under Unfinished Business, the Board voted 7-0 to approve two different agreements.  The first agreement was with the Mt. Pulaski Education Association and it finalized the systems which will eventually allow our schools to extend the school day from the currently limited 11:30 AM dismissal schedule.  The second item was an agreement with the Mt. Pulaski Park District which allows the schools to use park facilities for athletics.

Next, the Board adopted the 2020 Tax levy after a brief explanation from Superintendent Lamkey.  Mr. Lamkey explained that the Whitney Hill Wind Farm would be assessed for next year’s taxes and it was important impose a balloon levy that would ensure the district can receive all new income resulting from the wind farm.  The balloon levy is an exaggerated guess on the increased value that new properties the will bring to the district next year.  The projected levy has no effect on existing properties, only new additions.  The district chooses to balloon levy because there is no way to accurately assess the value of new property until the county releases the extension in the spring of next year.  Board member Rob Smith supported the balloon levy and also revealed to the Board that he felt that the district’s financial situation was strong and would allow the Board opportunities to balance future decisions of how the district can support instructional and infrastructure needs with the districts desire to be considerate of decreasing property taxes.  Board member Doug Martin then commented that the district committed to a resolution a little over two years ago to annually abate taxes with the voluntary $140,000 donation from the wind farm.  He also noted that the district made an early bond payment of almost $400,000 which allowed the district to reduce the 20 year bond to 15 years, knocking off almost $2.5 million dollars from the bond payments.  Superintendent Lamkey reported there should be an 11 cent decrease in taxes due to the Board 14% abatement of construction bonds.  Board member Chris Brown also recalled that our district tax rate is in the middle of the pack when comparing Logan County districts.  The Board adopted the levy 7-0. 

The Board then considered approving a tuition waiver for students of school employees to attend Mt. Pulaski Schools tuition free, despite not living in the district.  This waiver is offered by the Illinois State General Assembly and has a sunset of 2026.  This waiver was brought to the attention of the board for consideration by district staff members.  While the Board was no against the idea in concept, they felt it needed more consideration and could possibly be bargained at a later date with the MPEA.  Board Member, Deanne Mott echoed that she would like to revisit this concept.  The Board voted 0-7 against the waiver.

Superintendent Lamkey then reminded the Board that the district had a handshake agreement with the Mt. Pulaski Christian Church to shelter our students in the event of an emergency.  A member of the church board approached the district asking if an agreement should be in place.  The district then drafted an agreement for the church to make the arrangement official.  The Board approved the agreement 7-0.

The Board Policy Committee then presented the fall policy update with one item of note.  That policy item allows the district flexibility to adapt student’s schedules in the scenario they have an opportunity to participate in an accredited apprenticeship. The updated policies were adopted 7-0.

Mr. Lamkey then posed the Board with in a question, asking the Board if they would consider paperless board packets.  Mrs. Fricke, the district’s Technology Coordinator, informed the board that Chrome Books would be the best option.  The addition of Chrome Books would also allow the district to hold digital board meetings in an easier fashion.  After discussing the possibilities, the board agreed to look into the process.  Mr. Lamkey will work with Mrs. Fricke to develop a tentative plan to present to the Board in January.

As a part of his responsibilities, Mr. Lamkey then requested that the Board evaluate him for the 2020-21 school year.  The evaluation will take place at the January regular meeting.

The Board then voted 7-0 to approve custodial job descriptions that make a high school diploma a preference and not a requirement for employment.  It was noted that evening custodian hours need to be extended to 10:30 PM to reflect current practices.  Supervisory position will still require a diploma or GED.

The last action of the Board was to approve the Personnel Report which hired Racheal Jones and Kristen Traum has cooks, Mitchell Beckers as a high school custodian and approved a paternity leave for Brian Erlenbush.  It also included a resignation letter from Kevin Kirk as a part-time custodian.

Under Items of Discussion, Board member Aaron Wilham commented that he would like to see the district announce a tentative date for the High School Open House reveal date.  The Board will discuss the date of this event at the January regular meeting.

At 7:11 PM, the Board entered into Executive Session to discuss the employment of staff.  They returned from Executive Session at 8:06 PM and adjourned.  The next regularly scheduled Board meeting will be held on January 20, 2021.