Litchfield Board Hears Fogleman Farm Report

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The Litchfield School Board will have more than $200,000 to give away in scholarships this spring from this year's profits at Fogleman Farms.

Larry Halleman of Bank and Trust Company made the yearly report to the board at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb.8, at Litchfield High School, and all board members were in attendance for the meeting.

The report accounts for nearly 800 acres in farmland in Cass County, Macoupin County and Pike County (Missouri), that was left to the district by Arthur Fogleman in 1986. Board members decided to keep the farmland and use the money for scholarships.

Halleman added they would reach some big numbers this year. The 16th scholarship recipient this spring will mark $2 million the district has awarded, and the 59th recipient will be the 2000th scholarship honoree.

He reported the net income of the farm was down just a little bit this year at $196,385. In addition, he reported in the last year, the board sold 40 acres of land in Pike County, and hopes to sell the remainder of the ground there to possibly purchase better ground closer to the district.

Board President Tim Reents said the numbers were "fantastic," and said the board will look into raising the scholarship amount in the future. It is currently set at $1,250.

School Calendar

Superintendent Chad Allison gave an update to the school calendar since the district has already used nine snow days.

He said the district budgeted for five emergency days, and that the Illinois State Board of Education will allow the district to request "act of God" days on the remaining four days.

"That was a concern to me," Allison said.

He felt the students needed to make up as much time in the classroom as possible, and is proposing to extend the school calendar by three days.

Under the current calendar, school would end on Tuesday, May 31. Allison is proposing to finish out the remainder of the week, ending on Friday, June 3, which would be report card day.

That schedule adds three of those days back to the school year, and Allison said they will most likely request an "act of God" day on the other one.

He and board members did discuss some other possible options for future use, including a delayed start to the school day, or using current school holidays or spring break to make up the days.

Allison felt like this year, parents were assuming those days would not be school days and might have already made family plans.

"We do need to start thinking about other options though," Allison said.

Should the district use any more snow days this school year, Allison said they will most likely be "act of God" days, as it would be hard to extend the calendar past June 3.

In other snow-related news, Curriculum Director Jennifer Thompson noted that the ISAT (Illinois Standardized Assessment Tests) have been moved back one week because of all the inclement weather. She said teachers were excited for the additional instruction time.

Recognition

Allison made several recognition presentations.

Once again, J.D. Colt and Russell elementary schools have been named Illinois Spotlight Schools for the third year in a row.

Criteria for the recognition includes making AYP (adequate yearly progress) for the building in reading and math, and having at least 50 percent of the students from low income families. Allison stressed that since AYP jumped to 77.5 percent meets or exceeds this year, that was quite a feat.

"Only 300 schools in the state received the honor this year," he said. "Both schools really need to be commended for doing a wonderful job with their students. It's what education is all about."

Elementary school teachers Linda Smith and Janice Bitter were on hand for the meeting. They thanked the board for the recognition and said the work "starts at Madison Park," and that they all have to work together. Bitter also said parental support is vital.

In other recognition, Allison honored several district employees who went above and beyond for the district during the inclement weather last week.

He said Building and Grounds Coordinator Dale Bruhn, and his wife, Carol, came in to staff the warming center at Simmons Gym. Although no one used it, Allison praised the Bruhns for their willingness to help out.

The district also received a letter of thanks from the American Red Cross for opening the warming center. Cafeteria coordinator Bev Winstead and her staff also made sure to have enough menus for three days if they needed it at the warming center.

Allison gave thanks to all the custodians who worked hard to make it easier to get into all the district buildings for school on Friday. Also, bus driver Brenda Mosser came in to check on her bus, and then made sure to try and start all the buses, avoiding potential problems.

Auto mechanics teacher Bruce Gray came in to fix some problem buses, and also unfroze all the stop arms on the buses.

"We really appreciate the hard work of all these individuals," Allison said.

Other Business

In other business, the board approved a resolution for the purchase of real estate at 203 W. Scherer in Litchfield for $60,000. The offer was approved following the January board meeting.

Allison said they have no immediate plans for the building, but could be used in the future for expansion. The home is located near Litchfield Middle School.

Board members also approved the monthly fuel bid from Wolff Oil in Litchfield for $2.5588 per gallon for unleaded and $2.8025 per gallon for biodiesel. They also received a bid from M&M Service Company.

The board approved the yearly Safe Schools Intergovernmental Agreement with ChrisMont School, and the district has been participating in that program since 1997.

Information Items

Under the treasurer's report, Allison reported the district was in good shape, citing an increase in the education fund since December.

He also said while the state continues to pay general state aid, they have not made payments on their categorical grants such as transportation and early childhood, and currently owe the district $773,000. To date this school year, the state has paid $7,048.10 of its obligations.

Allison said the district is up 10 students this month in his enrollment report, and that they welcome the new students to the district.

In talks with Litchfield City Administrator Andy Ritchie, Allison said the city has applied for a federal grant to help make Simmons Gym more earthquake-proof. Allison said it could be as much as two years away before work begins, but it will be at no cost to the district.

In other grant news, Bruhn applied for another Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation grant for additional solar panels. The organization was impressed with the district's program at the middle school level, and they will look into installing one at Russell School.

Bruhn also applied for a Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation pilot program to include a wind turbine at the middle school. The grant offers $20,000 with a 10 percent match from the school.

"It's not a huge turbine, but it would be a good start for us," Allison said.

During the month of January, the solar panels at the high school generated 107 kilowatt hours of energy, which offset 182 pounds of carbon dioxide and is the equivalent of planting two trees.

Allison told board members that the middle school is participating in the Litchfield McDonald's "Give a Little Love" campaign fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House, and encouraged them to stop by and purchase paper hearts to help. The middle school hopes to raise $1,000 for the cause.

Allison said the district received its profile score from the Illinois State Board of Education, at 3.90, which is within the requirements for recognition. He said the score is up a bit from last year's 3.80.

He also gave an update on the AdvancED accreditation. Currently, parent, teacher, student and community surveys are being entered into a database and information will be available soon. The district will host a planning session on Friday, March 4, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, March 5, from 7 to 11:30 a.m. to discuss the district vision and mission statements as well as data from the surveys.

They're hoping for a large parent turnout for both sessions.

Only two schools in the state, Carlinville and a high school near Chicago, have qualified for the AdvancED accreditation.

"We're kind of in uncharted waters here," Allison said. "We'll have a visit from their staff next spring to make sure we're doing what we need to do for our kids."

Personnel

Following more than two hours in closed session, the board approved the monthly personnel report.

It included the employment of Ed Roundcount as middle school track coach and Sandra Linn for a three-hour cafeteria position.

The board also rehired all administrators for the coming year including Susan Bennett, principal at J.D. Colt and Russell schools; Adam Favre, principal at Sihler and Madison Park schools; DeAnn Heck, assistant principal at the high school; Mark Hunt, principal at the high school; Andrea Lee, principal at the middle school; and Jennifer Thompson, director of curriculum and instruction/professional development..

Board members also updated the district's substitute calling list, adding Danielle McFarlin and omitting Jessie Huber, by request.

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