Johnson Controls Visits Litchfield Board

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After about 45 minutes of discussion, members of the Litchfield School Board approved an annual premium contract with Johnson Controls for $30,480 for maintenance work on the district's heating and air conditioning system on Tuesday evening, May 15 at Litchfield High School.

All board members were present for the discussion, and the contract renewal was tabled at the April meeting as board members were interested in more information about the services the company provides for the district.

Craig Heaton and Alyssa Soehlke of Johnson Controls were present at the meeting to answer questions as well as Luther Thimsen, who is the technician who works on the district's system.

Among the services they provide to the district are 24 days of work each year or two days a month to maintain the district's HVAC system, that modulates heating and cooling for all district buildings. Included in the work is fixing failed controllers in each building as well as training for district staff members.

Previously, the district has opted for the premium contract, which includes replacing controllers at no cost to the district.

Board member Jeff Seabaugh asked if their system was able to monitor any problems with the units or with the boilers, and Heaton said their system is capable of remote connection. Board member Meg Wertin asked if the system could monitor sensitivity, such as a door or window left open, and Heaton said it does not monitor air flow.

Seabaugh also asked about the possibility of adding humidity sensors, which is possible if the district wants to do that.

Wertin asked the technician what a typical day is like when he comes to the district, and he said he typically responds to problems in the system. He typically waits until there are several job tickets he can complete at once unless it is a problem that needs to be fixed immediately.

Board member Julie Abel asked about additional district vendors providing seemingly the same service, including Mac's Fire & Safety and Neuhaus Heating and Cooling.

Thimsen said Neuhaus bid out some new equipment for the district, and that Mac's Fire & Safety provides an alarmĀ  on the system, which was set up many years ago. Seabaugh asked if Johnson Controls could just take care of that since they are monitoring it anyway and eliminate the other vendor.

Board member Dennis Scobbie asked about the mold problem, which was later fixed, in the elementary school buildings, and Seabaugh said if they had the humidity sensors they would find it faster. Thimsen said that may be true, but the district did not fix the problem (which includes reinsulating pipes), so if there's a wet or a hot summer, they could once again find mold in the elementary school building. Abel asked why they didn't fix the problem, and it was because it was very expensive.

Following the discussion, the board voted unanimously to approve the premium contract with Johnson Controls.

Other Business

In old business, the board unanimously approved a resolution to prohibit sexual harrasment in the workplace, as required by state statute. Superintendent Debbie Poffinbarger said the resolution was put together by Press Plus, and the district is now in compliance.

The board also unanimously approved an annual renewal with Blue Cross Blue Shield for employee health insurance benefits. Poffinbarger said Cornerstone was able to negotiate a renewal rate including a 7.5 percent increase as opposed to the original 15.42 percent increase proposal. Poffinbarger added the district is pleased to stay with the same carrier.

Under the consent agenda, the board approved the monthly classroom volunteers list, an annual contract with the IHSA and IESA for student athletes to compete next school year, student handbook additions and destroying closed session minutes older than 24 months.

Board member Gregg Hires asked about a change to a policy in making tougher penalties for tardies and LHS Principal Greg Hoster said it applies to all extra-curricular activities, like Prom, as well as sports. He said the tardies are out of control for first hour, and that they had some success in curbing tardies this spring as students did not want to lose the chance to go to Prom.

In her reports, Poffinbarger noted the district paid $401,441 in bills, including $333,884 from the education fund. The district currently has a balance of $4.279 million with $3 million in operating funds.

Citizens Agenda

Building administrators recognized those students chosen to attend the Illinois Principals Association annual breakfast. They include Zoei Schmitz, Peyton Taylor, Jessie Zane, Riley Hester and Breanna Seely.

Poffinbarger also recognized the district's retirees, including Mid-State Special Education aides Vickie Jones and Carol Ulrich, and LHS high school art teacher Linda Yurkovich. Each received a plaque and a gift from the district.

LHS Student Council President Breanna Seely gave her final report as a representative to the board. She talked about the end of year activities and how much the seniors were looking forward to graduation.

She announced new Student Council officers for the coming year including Treasurer Carly Boden, Secretary Bethany Seely, Vice President Sydney Hoehl and President Ellen Fleming, who will also serve as a representative to the school board.

Information Items

In her Finance Committee report, Abel said the group looked at the monthly bills, as well as the budget, and said the district is right on track.

Abel said the district received $94,000 from the 1 percent sales tax for December, which is the largest payment they have received so far.

In her technology report, Christy Randle said they were wrapping up standardized testing for the year and preparing to collect Chromebooks from the students. She said she was able to secure an extra year on the warranty of the batteries from Acer.

Poffinbarger told the board the nurses had restocked epi pens for the district, and they were in compliance for the Disabilities Education Act Determination of Performance. She also noted the district received an official letter that Head Start would no longer be renting space from Sihler School. They will be starting at Lily Pad Learning Center on June 15.

Board member Gregg Hires asked about a decrease in enrollment numbers over last year, and if that was a trend. Poffinbarger said she couldn't speak to that without looking at a birth rate study. Administrative Assistant Kris Adamson said the district had made some changes to the way attendance was reported in the past year, and was tightening up discrepancies in the past. She said that may present a skew over the numbers from the previous few years.

Hires said he felt the trend should be toward an increase in enrollment because of all the expansion in Litchfield over the past several years.

"There are things that need to be done," Poffinbarger said. "We need to focus in on the community and show them we have a phenomenal school district."

Personnel

Following nearly two hours in closed session, the board approved items on the monthly personnel report.

They unanimously voted to eliminate the non-certified position of technology assistant as of June 30. That position is currently held by Christy Randle, and earlier this year, the district voted to hire QNS Technology to provide IT support for the district.

They also unanimously voted to hire Brett Holliday as the director of buildings and grounds and transportation for a salary of $50,000 a year. His position begins on May 29.

They hired David Seabaugh and Tatum Wertin for summer lawn maintenance and custodial work. Board members Jeff Seabaugh and Meg Wertin abstained from the vote.

In sports news, they unanimously hired Justin Ripley as eighth grade boys basketball coach and Austin Sherfy as high school assistant football coach, both for the 2018-2019 school year.

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