Long Closed Session For Litchfield School Board

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It was a long and unusual night for members of the Litchfield School Board, who met for nearly five hours as part of their regular monthly meeting on Thursday evening, Jan. 18, at the high school. Of that time, less than half an hour was spent in open session.

Board member Ron Anglin was absent from the meeting.

After calling the meeting to order, the board heard a brief presentation from the middle school and accepted a $1,000 check from a grant received by middle school teacher Jennifer Fleming.

LMS Principal Jennifer Thompson praised Fleming for writing the grant to the Illinois Education Association, and noted this is the second one she has received. In 2013, she received a $1,000 grant for The Underground after school program in Litchfield.

This year, she earned $1,000 for the Pantry Pals program at the middle school, which provides a bag of meals for middle school students on the free and reduced lunch program to take home for the weekend. The grant program is open to young teachers, who have ten years of experience or less in the teaching field.

Fleming introduced Audra Plummer, who helped to start the program about a year ago.

Each bag includes two meals for Saturday and Sunday, when kids are not in school. With the help of Beacon Church in Litchfield, they are also expanding the program to Madison Park, Colt and Russell elementary schools in the coming weeks.

"They are so faithful every single week," Thompson said. "Our kids look so forward to it. They are always so, so grateful, and this is just wonderful for our kids."

Following the ten-minute check presentation, the board adjourned into closed session, and would not reconvene in open session until 10:15 p.m.

After closed session, the board unanimously approved the need for confidentiality of closed session minutes for the months of July through December in 2017, and decided to keep those minutes closed.

They also approved the resignation of teacher Peggy Adamick, effective Jan. 18, as well as the settlement agreement.

In a 5-1 vote, they approved the reclassification of Mark Hunt, a tenured administrator, from his current 12-month administrative position to a nine-month certified teaching position. Hunt currently serves as the director of student services and is in charge of buildings and grounds. Board member Dennis Scobbie voted against the measure.

The board did not take any action on the request for approval of a five-year contract for Superintendent Debbie Poffinbarger for the period from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2023.

During the consent agenda, the board approved the monthly classroom volunteer list and monthly bills. In her treasurer's report, Poffinbarger noted a $4.3 million balance across all funds, and said the district received a payment of $83,000 for the county-wide school facilities tax in December. She added that the state has not made payments for special education or transportation, and currently owes the district $550,450.

Under old business, the board unanimously approved a second reading of policy updates from Press Plus. Poffinbarger said there was nothing glaring, just some foot-note changes.

Information Items

In her monthly enrollment report, Poffinbarger said she added an average class size to the sheet.

In the superintendent's report, Poffinbarger said they need to replace some windows at the middle school due to water damage. The committee designated to discuss the school facilities tax usage toured Sihler and Colt schools, and will tour Madison Park and Russell next month, followed by the middle school and high school. Poffinbarger said they need to eventually look at the possibility of a large building project.

Before adjourning, Poffinbarger invited the community to the next monthly school board meeting, where she will present her vision and strategic plan for the district. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 15, beginning at 6 p.m. at Litchfield High School.

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