Budget Hearing Precedes Nokomis Board Meeting

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Prior to the start of the regularly scheduled meeting, the Nokomis School Board held a public hearing on the FY20 amended budget on Tuesday, June 16, at the junior high library.  

Dr. Scott Doerr presented the amended budget, stating the district has a balanced budget for FY20.  He said all the funds should end with a positive balance and that overall it was a very good budget, but noted that some revenue from the state in the form of mandated categorical payments remained as yet unpaid.  He further explained that changes in the amended budget included increased funding available in federal title grants, the creation of a school improvement grant, changes to IDEA grants, a decrease in interest in all funds, and decreases in revenue and expenditures due to the closure of schools in March.

There were no public comments offered on the budget.  

President Chad Ruppert then called the regular meeting to order with several guests attending via Google Meets internet link.  

In his report to the board, Superintendent Doerr that the state owed the district $154,141.79 which included the 4th quarter mandated categorical payment coming due on June 30.  The third quarter MCAT payment had been made last week.  He said of the various state payments to be received, most were behind by one payment at this time.  He also said he anticipated the receipt of all federal grant money and breakfast and lunch program federal money.

Doerr noted that the Governor did sign the budget passed by the General Assembly and that it called for level funding for schools in all categories.  

He also added, however, that this budget is dependent on the state borrowing additional funds from the federal government or receiving COVID funding and the passage of the graduated income tax increase.

Updating the board on the summer project planned, Doerr said SMS Masonry should start their work next week.  The new phone system should be installed in late June or early July.  The measurements for the roof ladder for the third story high school roof have been completed.    Work on the high school blacktop sealing and the North School parking lot are both scheduled to begin on June 22.  The drywall repair at the North School is underway and should be completed by the end of the month.

In other work that had to be done, Doerr reported that the new doors for the high school had been ordered at a cost of $6,545.00 and that he had been able to get permission from ISBE to not install a door at the North School due to its age and egress possibilities.  He reported that work had begun on the fire shutters, but they were currently waiting on the shutters to be manufactured and delivered.  Also, fire pull stations in the high school needed to be replaced at a cost of $1,512.00.  He said moisture proof lights had to be installed in the shower rooms.

Doerr reported that plan for prom allowed that the high school would hold a coronation only on July 25, as had been planned.  He said the post-prom committee was free to continue to plan a dance or other activities after that, but none of it could take place on district property.

Lastly, Doerr told the board that the governor had signed a bill into law allowing for Election Day to be a state holiday in 2020.  The law amended the election code and not the school code.  He is waiting for guidance from the ISBE legal department on how this will be handled by schools.  Following an inquiry by Ruppert, Doerr also mentioned the possibility of starting school earlier in case of another COVID-related closing during the traditional cold and flu season.  Many colleges are already moving up their opening dates and not bringing students back after Thanksgiving break for this reason.  He acknowledged what happens in Cook county will likely influence scheduling for the rest of the state.

During the meeting, the board was addressed via Greg Frost of OPAA! Food Management regarding their bid to provide food service for the Nokomis district in FY21.  Doerr introduced Frost by saying OPAA! had provided the lowest bid per meal at a cost of $1.325 per meal.   Frost said OPAA! was excited about the prospect of working with the district.  He said his company currently worked with 16 districts in the state and was hoping to add three or four more for the coming year.  He also added the company was active with about 300 districts total in seven states.  He explained that the companies more from “scratch-type” cooking and home-style meals would entice higher student participation in the school’s meal program, resulting in more federal grant money for the district, as funds are participation based.  Frost also added that his company provided a value-added service that helped districts look for and obtain other meal related grants.  The board unanimously accepted the bid by OPAA! Food Management Company for FY21.

Representing Nokomis FFA, Ty Knodle and Kendall Knodle gave the board the annual report from the vocational agriculture program at Nokomis High School.  Both reported the chapter had continued to compete successfully in various contests held in their section that were virtual this spring instead of live.  They also discussed the skills they had learned in vocational ag program; such as record keeping and management skills, as well as public speaking and parliamentary procedure skills.  They thanked their advisors and the school board for their continued support of the program.  The board likewise, commended them on their achievements and thanked them for their report.

On a motion by Janssen and a second by Jim Eisenbarth, the board unanimously accepted the bid from Farmer’s Oil for gas, oil, and diesel effective July 1, 2020 thru June 30, 2021 on a roll call vote.

Joe Gasparich made a motion to approve the amended FY20 budget as presented.  Fesser seconded the motion and it passed unanimously on a roll call vote.

Gasparich then made a motion to approve the Prairie State Insurance Cooperative Property, Casualty, and Workers’ Compensation renewal for FY21.  In discussion, Doerr informed the board that rates had gone up 28 percent for property and casualty coverage and 14 percent on the workers’ compensation coverage based on claims over the previous three year period.  Fesser seconded the motion and it passed unanimously on a roll call vote.

Janssen moved to approve the Nokomis Jr/Sr High School athletic code for FY21.  Ruppert noted that in reviewing the code, “it seemed worded pretty fairly.”  Member Ben Tarter seconded the motion and it passed unanimously on a roll call vote.

The board then voted unanimously to accept the bid of $1,009.63 from Philip Fiscella to purchase the 2003 Gravely mower they had invited bids on.  The motion was made by Fesser and seconded by Eisenbarth.

On a motion by Eisenbarth and second by Gasparich, the board unanimously voted to approve the agreement between Nokomis and Special Education Services (MENTA) for ChrisMont services for FY21.

The board then unanimously approved the agreement between Nokomis CUSD #22 and Special Education Services (MENTA) for lunch services for FY21.  The motion was made by Janssen and seconded by Eisenbarth.

Gasparich made a motion to accept the IESA/IHSA guidelines for summer 2020.  The motion was seconded by Fesser and passed on a roll call vote 6-1, with Ruppert voting against.

Fesser moved to approve the behind-the-wheel and summer school guidelines for the summer 2020.  Tarter seconded the motion.  The motion passed on a voice vote.  In a related motion made by Gasparich, the board voted 6-1 to approve the memorandum of understanding with the Nokomis Education Association regarding summer behind-the-wheel classes.  Tarter seconded the motion.  Eisenbarth voted against.

After a half-hour closed session, the board accepted the resignations of Erica King (junior high science) and Darci Harrison (high school yearbook) on a motion by Fesser and second by Eisenbarth.

Janssen made a motion to employ the following for the 2020-2021 school year: Alexis McDowell (high school yearbook) and Shannon Abendroth and Jennifer Doylen as co-junior class sponsors.  After a second by Fesser, the motion passed unanimously.

On a motion by Tarter and second by Eisenbarth, the board approved the following coaching staff for next school year on a voice vote: head  football Paul Watson, F/S and JV football Frank Steele, freshman assistant football J.J. Sabol, high school volleyball Megan Mehochko, F/S and JV volleyball Amy Stolte, high school boys basketball Dan DeWerff, freshman basketball Derek Johnson, high school girls basketball Brandon Engelman, F/S and JV girls basketball Bonnie Brownback, F/S and JV baseball Tim Miller, high school softball Mark Sowarsh, F/S and JV softball Karson Gragert, high school cheerleading Laura Smiley, junior high softball Mark Sowarsh, junior high baseball Justin Goodwin, junior high girls basketball Brandon Engelman, junior high assistant girls basketball Dylan Perkins, and junior high cheerleading Marissa Cesaretti.

Janssen made a motion to approve the following volunteer coaches for next school year: Corey Black, Ben Tarter and Nick Fox football, high school cheerleading Michelle Hill, high school girls basketball Beth King and Alexis McDowell, high school and junior high softball Isabelle Batty, junior high baseball Greg Lyons, junior high girls basketball Beth King and Bonnie Brownback, junior high softball Karson Gragert, and junior high cheerleading Amber Wright.

The motion passed on a roll call vote with Tarter abstaining and Fesser voting “no.”

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