Litchfield Installs New Members, Elects Abel President

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In a reorganizational meeting of the Litchfield School Board, held Thursday evening, April 25, at Sihler School, incumbent Julie Abel was elected as president of the board.

Other officers include Vice President Ron Anglin and Secretary Valerie Cain. Superintendent John Mullett served as the president pro-tem of the board during the election process.

Prior to electing officers, the old board officially accepted the canvass of returns from Macoupin and Montgomery counties, following the April consolidated election.

New members were sworn in and given the oath of office by Board Vice President Ron Anglin. Those sworn in include incumbents Julie Abel and Valerie Cain and new members Mike Fleming, Mark Bloome and David Belusko.

After the election of officers, Anglin told the board that he had been asked to take the office of president of the board, but felt he could not do so because work obligations restrict when he is able to answer his phone.

"I think Julie will do an excellent job," he said.

As their first official acts as new board members, the board unanimously approved the school board meeting dates for 2019-2020 on the third Thursday of each month, beginning at 6 p.m. at Sihler School. The only change to that is when the board meets in November on Tuesday, Nov. 19, because of the school board conference in Chicago. The board will meet as Fogleman trustees during the meetings on Sept. 19, Dec. 19, March 19 and June 18. The Sept. 19 meeting will also include the annual budget hearing.

Mullett said these dates were actually approved by the outgoing board in March, but he felt it should be the new board to make it official.

They also unanimously approved the resignation of high school guidance counselor Chris Headrick and third grade teacher Abby Headrick at the end of this school year.

Other Business

Prior to installing the new board members, the old board met as trustees of the Fogleman Scholarship at the start of the meeting. They unanimously approved the list of 25 graduating seniors, who will be announced at this year's Honors Night on Wednesday, May 1, in Simmons Gym. Mullett told the board the students had met all the requirements of the scholarship, and will each receive $2,000, renewable for four years.

After the Fogleman meeting, the old board met for one final regular monthly meeting. In the absence of President Jen Reid, Vice President Ron Anglin presided over the meeting.

The board honored three outgoing members, who were not re-elected in the April consolidated election, including Reid, Meg Wertin and Dennis Scobbie. Each received a plaque.

In her absence, Mullett read a letter submitted by Reid, who said it had been an honor to serve on the Litchfield School Board and that she had a much greater respect for the teachers and staff of the district now. She said she was confident the new board would do what's best for the students and do a great job representing their community.

"I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines," Reid wrote. "And I can't wait to see what the future of our district holds."

Also during the Citizen's Agenda, Litchfield High School Student Council President Ellen Fleming gave the board a report from LHS. She said Prom would be held May 4, and that students were looking forward to the annual biology field trip to Lake Lou Yaeger and the physics field trip to Six Flags. Fleming reported the senior sports banquet would be held May 6, and the FFA would be hosting its annual petting zoo on Friday, May 4.

"It's the end of the year, and we're looking forward to finishing on a good note," Fleming said.

After the Citizen's Agenda, the board met for just over one hour in closed session, and unanimously  accepted the personnel report.

They accepted the resignation of seventh grade boys basketball coach Chris Baugher, a letter of intent to retire from bus driver Tom Billiter and the hire of Make-It summer workers Raynne Thompson and Brittany Komor. The board also approved the voluntary transfer of third grade teacher Whitney McSperritt to first grade, fourth grade teacher Lisa Evans to second grade and fifth grade teacher Shelby Fults to fourth grade.

After returning to open session, the board approved the monthly consent agenda, including several early high school graduates, who have met the 25-credit requirement needed to graduate after the fall 2019 semester. Mullett said the students have established both long and short-term goals for their futures and would like to be able to enroll in college classes in the spring semester.

The consent agenda also included renewal of membership in the Illinois High School Sports Association (IHSA), as well as a renewal of contract with Go Solutions, Inc., from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020. This service agreement provides Medicaid claims reimbursement to the district for services provided to students.

Board members approved payment of monthly bills in the amount of $291,453 for April. That includes $224,506 from the education fund, where day-to-day operations are paid, $43,957 in operations and maintenance, $19,528 in transportation, $1,290 from the capital projects fund and $2,171 from tort. 

In his treasurer's report, Mullett said the district has a $7.1 million balance in all funds as of March 31. That includes $4.54 million in operating funds and $1.26 million in the capital projects fund.

The final item on the consent agenda was deleting recorded closed session minutes from March 2017.

Under new business, the board unanimously approved a second reading of board policy updates from the service Press Plus.

Information Items

Building and Grounds Director Bob Witter reported the old unit office building, located across the street from the high school was scheduled to be leveled this week. He said the gas line had already been taken out, and the Litchfield Fire Department was using the building for training over the weekend.

On Monday, Witter said the trees were scheduled to come down there, as well as two trees at Sihler School. The building is scheduled to come down on Tuesday, with plans advancing for a parking lot. Board member Julie Abel asked how many parking spaces would be available. Witter said around 32 at the old unit office and about 20 at Sihler School and the new unit office, where the two trees once stood. 

Witter said they are going to attempt to save as much of the trees as possible, which will then be sent to a mill and the lumber returned to the district at no cost. Building Trades teacher Elbert Jones plans to use the wood for projects, and Witter estimated they would be able to build one or two lake cabins if the city requested it.

In another update, Mullett and Witter told the board all light fixtures in all the buildings were replaced by a company, and Ameren footed the bill. They are more energy efficient LED lights, and Witter estimates the district will save $18,000 to $20,000 a year on energy costs. The company furnished the bulbs and did all the work. Lights in the gym buildings will be updated at a later date.

Board member Gregg Hires asked about problems with lights on the high school baseball field, and Witter said he was only just made aware of the issue. He reported that D&M Electric in Litchfield would be there on Friday morning, April 26, to work on the problem.

"We will make sure they are working," Witter said.

In his report, Mullett said the district received a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request from Marcus Albracht, regarding the Mid-State Special Education situation.

Before adjourning, Anglin once again thanked the outgoing board members for their service.

"Seeing the kids cross that stage at graduation is the real reward," Anglin said.

The meeting adjourned at 7:39 p.m. Board members will meet again on Thursday, May 16, beginning at 6 p.m. at Sihler School.

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