Hillsboro Board Works On Staffing For Next Year

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Members of the Hillsboro School Board had plenty of staffing moves to make at their Tuesday, June 11 meeting to be ready for classes to begin in August.

After an hour and a half closed session, the board hired Shelly Forys as third grade teacher at Beckemeyer, Brandi Harbert as second grade teacher at Coffeen, Carli Keown as early childhood special education teacher, and Laura Ganser-Kapp as half-time early childhood special ed teacher and half-time K-5 special ed teacher at Coffeen.

The board accepted the resignation of Assistant Superintendent Kyle Hacke who has taken the position of superintendent in the Southwestern School District, and that caused several staffing ripples.  Instead of filling the assistant superintendent vacancy, those duties will be divided up with the curriculum, instruction and grant responsibilities falling on a new position that the board hired Hope McBrain to fill. 

That will cause a further ripple: McBrain had been hired to fill a vacant assistant principal position at the junior high in April; that position is again vacant and will likely be filled next month.

Transportation duties filled by the former assistant superintendent will go to bus garage supervisor Adam Gregg, whose job was reclassified as transportation director.  Other former assistant superintendent duties, such as food services director, will be taken on by Superintendent David Powell.

The board also accepted the resignation of grade school teacher Hannah Wiggins, approved transfer agreements for 11 teachers and 19 aides from Mid-State Special Education into the Hillsboro School District, and approved two percent raises for specific employees and groups not covered by collective bargaining agreements or other pay scales.

The board approved advertising for bids on an estimated $27,100 ($31,000 including contingencies) to put a new access drive from Fairground Avenue to the teachers' parking lot at Beckemeyer School.

According to the superintendent, the new access is intended to alleviate congestion while buses are loading and unloading on the north side of the building.  Currently, teachers and bus traffic use the same access off of Fairground Avenue.

"Anytime we can separate automobile traffic from buses loading and unloading, it's better," Powell said.

"I've been in that neighborhood way too many years, and I see congestion no matter what we do," board member Earl Meier said in a board discussion on whether the new access will help.  "We'll probably have to wait until after the first day or two of school to make adjustments."

Some of those adjustments may include prohibiting left turns (to the west) coming out of the new access.

Assistant Principal Michelle Reeves said the school unloads two buses at a time, so frequently teachers complain about the wait to get into the school, and that backs up traffic onto Fairground.  Also, transportation director Adam Gregg said bus drivers frequently complain about cars passing them while they are unloading in the morning.

Board member Dan Tester asked about the possibility of adjusting the work day so teachers are at school before 7:45 a.m., just before busses are scheduled to arrive.

"I just think there are better ways of addressing this without spending $30,000 and tearing up the yard," Tester said.

Ultimately, the motion to solicit bids for the project passed 6-0 with board member Bryce Rupert not present for the meeting.

Board members reviewed the plans for a "Do It Yourself" industrial arts program, which will be taught by Tony Marcolini at Hillsboro High School beginning this fall.

According to Powell, the curriculum will focus on developing basic trades skills that can be built upon, and teaching basic skills "so you can change a faulty light switch or build a doghouse.  This is something a college prep kid could take and be back in calculus the next hour, and that's something that has sorely been missing.

"From the name, I don't want people to get the wrong idea," the superintendent added.  "This isn't going to be building a birdhouse; it's basic electricity and plumbing and all the rest."

Powell said three sessions of about 15 students each have signed up for the class next semester.

During the financial portion of the meeting, the superintendent showed board members a check for $7,500 from the Hillsboro Education Foundation to pay for more than half of a new stage curtain in the high school gym.  The curtain is up, and the board approved paying the bill.

At the recommendation of consultants, the board renewed commercial insurance at a savings of $6,900 or 3.77 percent, and rehired Scheffel-Boyle of Edwardsville as district auditor at an hourly cost not to exceed $15,000.

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