A new member of the Panhandle School District administrative team was added during the board meeting on Monday, June 24, as Ken Schuster was named as principal of Lincolnwood Junior High and High School.
With more than 25 years of educational experience, Schuster comes to Lincolnwood from the Decatur Public School District, where he was a dean of students and assistant principal.
Before that, Schuster was a teacher and a coach, with stints as the girls basketball coach at West Hancock (the co-op between Warsaw, Nauvoo-Colusa and Hamilton), where he won a state title in 2008 and a runner-up finish in 2009, and at Pana.
"As time went on and I got the experience, I thought that it was time to make a move and see where I wanted to be," Schuster said of why he applied for the position at Lincolnwood. "When I saw the job posted, I thought that this would be a good fit and a good opportunity for me to, what I want to call, come home."
A graduate of Carthage High School, Schuster said that he was looking to get back to a smaller community in his search for his next challenge.
"It appealed to me. You get into a situation where you're going to know every board member by their first name. You're going to know the kids' parents that you're educating. You're going to know the teachers and know something about them," Schuster said.
And you already know them because people are people, and they're like you," Schuster said. "That's kind of the draw to me. I want to be that small town principal where you build those relationships with the students, the staff and the community."
With a bachelor of science degree in physical education and social studies from Quincy University and a masters of science in education administration from William Woods, Schuster and his wife Dawn live in Mt. Zion, with Mrs. Schuster working as the chief financial officer of Crop Risk Services, a division of AIG, in Decatur. The Schusters have five grown children and one grandson, who is almost one-year-old.
"We're empty nesters, so I'll have time to dedicate to the kids in this building," Schuster said.
At the meeting on Monday, Schuster told the board that he appreciated the opportunity to be Lincolnwood's next principal.
"I'm so excited about it. It's kind of like getting your first coaching job," he said. "I want to continue to build on the success other administrators have had here and work with Mr. Hopper. I think we can become a really strong administrative team."
Schuster's hiring was one seven personnel items done after the closed session, which lasted from 7:35 to 8:44 p.m. The board would approve the resignation of Sandi Friend-Jackson as a Title I paraprofessional and approved the hiring of Belinda Ernst as a paraprofessional at Farmersville Grade School.
Farmersville Grade School also added Stephanie Short as a first grade teacher and Carrie Matthews for the Title I position.
At Lincolnwood Junior High and High School, Sheena Wolfe was approved as the secretary and in-house substitute, while current agriculture teacher Monty Elvidge added junior high baseball assistant to the list of his duties.
The meeting started with a budget hearing at 6:45 p.m., with the FY19 final amended budget later approved during the regular meeting.
Superintendent Aaron Hopper said that the aggregate amount of the budget was $28,500 less than the budget set in September, with $100,000 still to come in from the state.
Hopper said that revenues were up $108,500 from various sources, including the Montgomery County sales tax, which was budgeted for $300,000, but yielded $321,000 for the district.
Hopper said that money was factored in when doing the roof replacement project at the high school, which is 75 percent complete, and the district is also looking at issues with the parking lot and HVAC system.
He added that some funds are being drawn down and the district was able to reduce some of its maintenance and repair costs for transportation by trading in the busses that had more mechanical problems.
In addition to the amended budget, the board also approved second reading of board policies, the purchase of a 2006 multi-function activity bus for $5,500 (pending title transfer), the high school schedule for the 2019-2020 school year and the 2019-2020 board of education meeting dates.
The board also approved two motions for resolutions authorizing the acceptance of transfer employment of certain licensed employees and support personnel of Mid-State Special Education.
Hopper said that following the teacher's union vote on May 30 and the Mid-State Board vote on June 13, Mid-State was decentralized into 13 districts, with each special education staff member now under the individual schools. He added that Mid-State will still be providing support, training and other services to these school districts.
In his buildings and maintenance update, Hopper said that the foam insulation for the gym storage area has been completed, as well as some concrete work at Farmersville Grade School. Teachers and staff are currently completing small projects in preparation for the upcoming school year.
The board also discussed a possible change order for the roof replacement project, which would add two inches of insulation under a portion of the metal wall panels that cover the outside walls for the areas at the band room and auditorium.
Board member Scott Cowdrey said he suggested the insulation before the project was bid out, but did not catch that it wasn't in the bid until after it was too late. Cowdrey added that he thinks the insulation should be added, but he wasn't sure if the quoted price ($21,115) was a good one or not.
Board member Rick Bormida asked if it was possible to just insulate the area that would affect heat loss in the building. Hopper said he wasn't sure, but would check before a decision on the change order was finalized.
The meeting would adjourn at 8:50 p.m. The board will meet next on Monday, July 15, at 7 p.m. at the Lincolnwood High School library.