Nokomis Board Approves Vocational Consortium

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President Chad Ruppert called the monthly meeting of the Nokomis school board into session on Tuesday, Jan. 21, with six board members in attendance in addition to Superintendent Scott Doerr, principals Reedy and McDowell, and athletic director McDonald.

A large portion of meeting consisted of Dr. Doerr's report to the council regarding his meeting with the other three county superintendents to create the Montgomery County Vocational Education Consortium.  He explained to the board the proposed consortium was essentially a working agreement between the Nokomis, Hillsboro, Litchfield, and the Panhandle districts to cooperate and coordinate with each other in order to offer more vocational training to students of all the districts by opening some of the current vocational classes available at each school to students of the other schools.  The program would start in the 2020-2021 school year.

Nokomis students would have access to the afternoon courses of auto mechanics, construction trades, and CNA at Litchfield High School.  Morning classes of CNA and construction trades would be available at Hillsboro High School.  For their part, Nokomis High School would offer students from the other schools admittance in their morning educational dual credit class and the afternoon culinary arts class, if seats were available for the popular class.  He said other dual credit classes may be available to the plan depending on the time of day they were offered.

Doerr said the main obstacle was the coordination of school calendars and high school schedules between the four schools.  He said the consortium might also allow for the sharing of available equipment among the group, citing a vocational agriculture example.  Doerr said the ultimate goal of the consortium agreement was to create a Montgomery County Regional Workforce Innovation Center in Litchfield that, in the future, might also offer training to non-high school students.  Following his report and discussion, board member Joseph Gasparich made a motion to approve the intergovernmental agreement to form the Montgomery County Consortium For Innovation and Career Pathways.  The motion was seconded by member Jim Eisenbarth and approved unanimously by the board on a roll call vote.     

As part of his regular report to the board, Dr. Doerr stated the district had received all of their first quarter mandated categorical payments due from the state.  However, with the passing of the second quarter of FY20, the state now owes the district $135,226.48 for those same payments.  He added that the spring legislative session would soon be gearing up and would have an impact on funding for GSA, special education, and other items affecting schools. 

He added that both the state and county are preparing for the federal ten-year census and described its importance in determining the calculation for federal funding dollars for the district, including title funds, lunch funds, and special education.  Doerr said the district is working with Montgomery County officials to make sure all the citizens in the county are counted and added that everyone should be encouraged to complete the form and return it.

Doerr said he had requested Aramark to provide a report comparing this year's first semester lunch and breakfasts served on the meal program data to the same period from last year.  The district's numbers showed a significant increase despite the district having 14 fewer students this year.

Doerr reported that the kindergarten teachers have put together a proposal to eliminate kindergarten graduation ceremony and replace it with the "ABC Kindergarten Extravaganza."  The event would likely be held on the last day of school and showcase the achievements of the class that year.  The board directed the building principal to move forward with the idea.

Principals Reedy and McDowell and AD McDonald provided written reports to the board, with McDowell and Reedy having nothing additional to report at this time.  McDonald reported the athletic conference situation had become more vague with the news that another member had elected to go to eight-man football.  Due to the restructuring enacted by the IHSA, conference membership has become more of question than it had been in the past.  Gasparich voiced some frustration caused by the new requirements and McDonald said he hoped to have an update at the next meeting and would keep the board advised.

McDonald then reported the new district YouTube channel for district gym events has been successful and told how it could be accessed through the new district website.  Using his smartphone, he gave a quick demonstration how to get to the site.  This coincided with Dr.Doerr's report on the district's new app which would be available soon in Google Store or the App Store by searching under "Nokomis CUSD 22."  

As a part of regular business proceedings and approvals, the board approved a junior high science field trip to Cardinals Academy Program in St. Louis and also heard a thank you note sent to them by the Hopper family. 

After a closed session, a motion was then made by Janssen to employ Kirstin Whitlatch as a special education aide.   The motion was seconded by Tarter and approved unanimously by the board on a roll call vote.  The board then unanimously approved the motion by Eisenbarth to accept the resignation of Priscilla Mathews effective Jan. 17.  This motion was also seconded by Tarter.

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