PLT#3 Expands Pre-K Program, Approves Pay Increases

Higher pay for non-certified staff was approved unanimously.
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The PLT#3 School Board took action to accommodate more Pre-K students and overhauled the pay scale for non-certified employees during its July meeting. The board also christened its new agenda format starting the meeting with an executive session at 6:00 and reconvening into open session at 7:00 PM. Board VP Chad Abell led the meeting due to the absence of President Kim Purvis.

Additional Pre-K Teacher
A lengthy discussion was held concerning the possible addition of a third Pre-K teacher for the upcoming school year due to the growing number of children wanting to enter the program. Superintendent Heidi Lensing began the discussion saying she was in favor of adding a third teacher saying the personnel and finance committee had discussed the options at length but could not reach a consensus.

Board member Stuart Malone said after researching several area districts, PLT is among the highest in the area with 10% of the district population residing in the Pre-K program. He added the high percentage indicates the popularity and success of the program but felt that enough resources were already being used for the program. He cited the lack of a grant to fund the program saying most other districts do not self fund their Pre-K. “The amount of resources needed to increase the size of the program could be better spent in other areas such as special education and speech & language” ,said Malone.

Prophetstown Elementary School Principal, Kara Kullerstrand responded saying said without an additional teacher up to 30 children who may qualify for special services would not get into the program, which could increase the severity of issues when those children do have the opportunity to enter the program in the future.

Board member James Melton expressed his concern with a lack of quality candidates a so close to the start of the school year. Board member Whitney Mitchell-DeWitt said, “I find it so sad that it is coming down to money. This year with all the state money we received we have, we could fund the position.” Malone added “Our Pre-K program is doing pretty darn good, but where else do we need help? I can’t turn my back on the kids that are already in the school just to put all the focus on the ones just coming in.”

Last school year the program serviced 70 students in four half day sections. To date 80-90 children are wanting to enter the program. If the district can find a teacher before the start of the classes the school would be able to potentially service 100 students.

A motion to hire an additional Pre-K teacher was approved with Melton and Malone voting no.

Non-Certified Pay Increases

Stuart Malone gave a PowerPoint presentation developed by the personnel and finance committee regarding the pay of district non-certified staff. He started the presentation by saying the committee had done an extensive amount of research and hoped that their proposal would, “Right some wrongs” in reference to past pay practices. The committee grouped non-certified employees into five categories: administrative, custodial, paraprofessional, transportation, and food service. The committee developed new pay scales were for each category based on several criteria including: experience, regional comparison, and benefits. Initial raises in the proposal ranged from 6%-14% with the scale to be adjusted next year.

A trio of paraprofessionals in the district, Sheila Kincaid, Deb Roselieb and Amanda Abell took turns reading a statement to the board on behalf of their collogues who are members of the non-certified staff in the district concerning higher pay. The trio explained that paraprofessionals work at all grade levels assisting with students in a number of ways during the school day. The statement listed the many duties they are assigned that can range from one-on-one student support to supervising lunch or recess to clerical duties. They cited a lack of equitable pay compared to other districts, a lack of compensation for years of experience and lack of training among their reasons for justifying a pay increase.

A motion to adopt the new pay scale was approved unanimously.

Administrative Reports
PES Elementary School Principal Kara Kullerstrand thanked everyone for their participation in the Day of Caring event during which new landscaping was installed in front of the school, several rooms were painted, and a new Sensory Path was added to the playground.

PLT 6-12 Campus Principal, Janet Barnhart updated the board on revisions to the bullying policy and addressing the issue with added items to the curriculum and a new reporting system to track bullying incidents.

Complete Building Principals’ Reports

Committee Reports
The personnel and finance committee met to continue its work on noncertified staff pay increases.

Informational Items
Superintendent Lensing reported on the board retreat held on July 11. Two main topics discussed were the process to create a new strategic plan and the redefining of committees and how to make best use of them.

Lensing reported the return to school plan for the district regarding Covid is in place with no major changes made. There are currently no plans to implement Covid protocols.

Board Action

Approved a ballot submission for the Northwestern Illinois Association

Approved a new district grading scale based on 10% increments. 90-100 A, 80-89 B, etc.

Approved a bid from Gibson Oil to supply gasoline for the upcoming school year.

Approved submitted hazardous bus routes.

Personnel Report

  • Resignations
    • Michelle Buri, Teacher
    • Wes Anderson, Transportation Director, effective July 25, 2022
    • Katy Taylor, Guidance Counselor
    • Damian DeMay, 7 and 8 Grade Boys Track
  • Employment
    • Matthew Bradney, Teacher – HS English
    • Tonia Ernst, Teacher – 6-12 Special Education
    • Dana Murphy, Teacher – Middle School Science
    • Grant Domenz, Teacher – HS Social Studies
    • Tracy Sivits, Teacher – Pre-K
    • Destinee Massey, Nurse
    • Daniel Pyron, Part-time Custodian
    • Amber Baima, Asst. Basketball Cheer Coach
    • Kyle Schipper, E-sports Coach
    • James Prombo, 8 Grade Girls Basketball Coach
    • James Prombo, 8 Grade Boys Basketball Coach
    • Jeff Wunderlich, Assistant Baseball Coach
    • Jeff Wunderlich, Middle School Football Coach

The next board meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 24 with open session beginning at 7:00PM.

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