Several Options “Off The Table” At School Board

Board President James Melton said the board would not be voting on a final cost savings decision until August and added that he wanted to take some of the options being considered, “off the table.”
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The PLT#3 School Board took another step in deciding on a cost savings plan for the district on Monday night, during their monthly meeting. The board has been discussing several options for several months including possibly closing an elementary school.

Board President James Melton said the board would not be voting on a final cost savings decision until August and added that he wanted to take some of the options being considered, “off the table.”  Board members arrived at a consensus to remove the following options: Closing Prophetstown Elementary School due to the inefficiency of busing over 200 students to Tampico, Closing Tampico Elementary school, which would be detrimental to the village of Tampico and there is no plan on what to do with an empty building.

At the end of the discussion Melton said the board would have two issues to vote on in August, one being to pursue grade centers and the other to put a tax referendum on the ballot with the amount to be determined. Approval of grade centers would result in all Pre-K and 1st graders attending Prophetstown Elementary School and 2nd – 5th graders attending Tampico Elementary.  Currently both schools have Pre-K – 3rd grades with all 4th and 5th graders attending Tampico.

Five members of the board openly stated their support for the grade center option with Bruce Franks saying, “we owe it to the tax base, to the people who put us up here to do every little thing we can do before we have to shut down school.” Kim Purvis in voicing her support for the option said, “it seems to me this is the best thing we can do right now for our students, for our teachers, and our communities.”

If the district decides to pursue a tax referendum the information would need to be submitted to the county clerk’s office by mid-December to be on the April ballot.

One of the many issues that evolved from cost savings discussions was the possibility of keeping the Prophetstown Elementary School fourth graders in Prophetstown instead of sending them to Tampico as has been done in the past. The board decided to continue the practice of sending all fourth graders to Tampico.

Board member Pam Plautz suggested that the district pursue finding a person to write grants for the district suggesting there are many untapped sources of income that could be realized with someone dedicated to the task.

Budget

Superintendent Chad Colmone gave a presentation on the district’s financial situation following the close of the 2019 fiscal year.  His presentation was highlighted by the fact that the district’s education fund, which is used primarily to pay salaries, ended with a $68,000 surplus when it was projected to have a $180,000 deficit. Colmone explained that monies from the district’s EAV produced $40,000 more than anticipated, something which could not be predicted. Additional funds were also received from the state which owed money from FY 2018.  The district received $42,000 more than predicted in Title 1 funds and realized $50,000 in savings with a reduction in staff during the year.

Colmone was excited about the additional income but cautioned that increases from the same sources cannot be counted on in the future. He summarized his report by saying, “The sky is not falling today, but we better keep an eye on the location of the clouds.” The district budget was $6.8 million for FY 2019.

Prophetstown Elementary School Principal Justin Hovey reported that he was unable to hire an additional third grade teacher due to a lack of applicants. This has created a scenario with one section of third grade in Tampico with 19 students and one section in Prophetstown with 28 students. To reduce the class-size in Prophetstown Hovey suggested asking for parents of third graders assigned to Prophetstown to volunteer to have their student transferred to Tampico. Additionally, he suggested that any new students that register for Prophetstown be sent to Tampico. The board consensus was to let principals Hovey and Geer implement a plan to try and balance the classroom sizes.

The three district principles gave a report on the most recent 5 Essentials Survey which is taken by all prekindergarten through 12th-grade teachers and all 4th through 12th grade students.  The survey asks for opinions in five areas: Effective Leaders, Collaborative Teachers, Involved Families, Supportive Environment, and Ambitious Instruction. The survey is used to steer decision-making on school environments and is now taken every year. Board member Pam Plautz had asked for the presentation with the intention of administrators using the feedback during the upcoming school year. The results showed all three buildings scoring very high in support of new staff, which reflects the district’s mentoring program.  Results are not yet public, per the Illinois State Board of Education, until September.  The survey is part of the district’s ISBE State Report Card.

PLTTA co-president Kelly Siltman reported that contract negotiations are going well and progressing.

Reports

Building Principals

PES-Justin Hovey

The crisis team is working with the district’s new school resource officer Jim Miller to use common verbiage across the district regarding various safety situations.

Kindergarten Individual Developmental Survey (KIDS) results for the district have been released and are available online. https://www.isbe.net/kids

TES-Jim Geer

Introduced two new teachers in attendance Blair Bruyn 1st grade and Kimberly Souba 5th grade. Misty Judd, who was not at the meeting will teach 4th grade.

Announced that class lists will no longer be posted on the building’s front door but will be made available online or in the building office.

6-12 Campus-Keith Stewart and Mark Lofgren

The Moore Foundation has approved a grant to fund the campus service days for the upcoming school year.

A back-to-school open house will be held on Tuesday, August 13 from 6 to 7 PM.

The campus weight room has been moved to the old cafeteria space with equipment donated from Erie High School. The former weight room will be used for some P.E. classes and as a practice space for dance and cheer squads.

The campus will now have a single administrative office located in the new portion of the campus. The former office in the old portion of the campus will be used as a lunchroom for the 6-12 campus staff.

The school resource officer will have an office located on the second floor of the old portion of the campus.

Click For Complete Principals’ Reports

Superintendent- Chad Colmone

Several committees met to discuss plans and policies for the upcoming school year.

Information is being gathered and submitted to the district’s insurance company regarding the lightning strike in July.

Click For Complete Superintendent’s Report

Board Action

Approved a shared teacher resolution which will allow Kyle Foster to teach at both Prophetstown and Erie high schools.

Approved the use of $204,000 in Health Life Safety Funds for upcoming maintenance projects.

Executive Session Action

Resignations: Holly Wangelin, Teacher Katrina Schubert, Teacher

Employment: Tara Flint, Teacher -Title 1 PES Blair Bruyn, Teacher – TES 1st Tiffany Powell, Assistant Cook Jennifer Hamilton, Assistant Cook Brandon McCullough, MS Wrestling Coach; John Widener, HS Asst. Football Coach Volunteer MS Wrestling Coach, Justin Hovey

Approvals: Non-Certified Salary- Beginning Pay Scale Substitute & Extra Help- Pay Scale

Other Business

Kim Purvis shared a story of having her lunch paid for by an anonymous district family.  She said a note was left at the cash register saying her lunch had been paid for and expressing their condolences on the loss of her father. She added the action was one of the many things that makes her happy to be part of the district.

The next board meeting will be held on Monday, August 26 at 6:30 PM.

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