The April meeting of the Nokomis School Board was held on Tuesday, April 16, in the district office with seven board members in attendance. After approving the agenda as presented, the meeting proceeded with no public comments, but a thank-you to the board was read.
On split votes after a closed session near the end of the meeting, the board approved new administrator contracts effective from July 1 through June 30, 2023. The board voted 6-1 to approve the employment contract of principal Rachelle McDowell from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2023, with Chad Ruppert voting "no." The board voted 6-1 to approve the employment contract of principal Kevin Reedy from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2023, with Ruppert voting "no." The board voted 5-2 to approve the employment contract of assistant principal/athletic director Kevin McDonald from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2023, with Ruppert and Fesser voting "no." The board voted 5-2 to approve the employment contract of superintendent Dr. Scott Doerr from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2023, with Ruppert and Fesser voting "no."
The board voted unanimously to approve the resignations of June Davis (March 30), Kinsey Cunningham, Jessica Held, Hannah Wiggins, and Tamara Tolle at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year. The board then voted unanimously to approve a motion to approve the employment of Dillon Perkins, elementary, Hannah Readle, ag teacher, and Sara Kim, elementary. Lastly, with regard to employment, the board approved a motion to extend the days for Darren Fritz from five nights to six nights starting with the 2019-2020 school year.
In the superintendent's report, Dr. Scott Doerr reported the state of Illinois owes the district $166,883.28 for second and third quarter payments. He said he was expecting to receive the second quarter payment by June 30. He added the proposed capital bill is intended to be 50 percent for roads and bridges, and 50 percent for schools, but added the school money will probably be in the form of matching grants.
Doerr reminded the board that graduation dates were May 23 for the junior high and May 24 for the high school. Both are to start at 7 p.m. and the board members should plan to meet at 6:45 on those nights.
Dr. Doerr stated the FY19 budget will be amended again in June. A 30-day notice will be put in the paper the week of May 13. The amended budget will accurately display expenses and additional grant money the district received this year.
He also reported that NPT Special Education was progressing well. Subsequent to their March meeting, the co-op had hired all their instructors and personnel, except for a vision position. Also, final agreements with the non-NPT districts have been reached. Doerr said it is expected that the MSSE Executive Board will approve all transfer agreements in their April 17 meeting. Upon approval of the transfer agreements, letters will be sent to all teachers and aides indicating employment. He said he would then be meeting with each of them individually to discuss their employment for next year.
Doerr reported they had received a letter of intent to negotiate with Local 148 from Tony Fisher, the new business manager. These negotiations will only impact bus drivers and custodians. Upon the seating of the new school board and the appointing of a committee by the board president, dates will be set to commence negotiations.
Neither Kevin Reedy or Rachelle McDowell had a formal report for the board during the principals' report, however McDowell did comment that state testing had been going very well and that attendance during the three day period had been 100 percent.
The board went into closed session at 7:44 p.m. and returned from closed session at 8:35 p.m.
Upon returning from closed session, the board approved the FY19 amended school calendar. Having used three snow days, that makes the last school day May 24. The motion to approve the amended calendar was unanimously approved.
Tentatively, the board reviewed the basics of the FY20 school calendar. As legislation from the General Assembly is pending to fix some calendar issues created last year, the ISBE has not opened the school calendar portal. As a result, Doerr thought FY20 would start with two teacher in-service days, one dedicated for professional development and another for preparation and meetings. For next year, the four SIP days would be moved to Wednesdays instead of Fridays. This practice meshes better with the other NPT members, Taylorville and Pana, who already hold their SIP days on Wednesdays.
Another proposed change involves Easter. Normally, the district is off the Monday after Easter; but the high school has requested school be in session that day, April 13, 2020, due to the fact that SATs and ACTs are scheduled to be given the next day, Tuesday, April 14,2020. While the calendar has not been set for next year, it would appear graduations would be May 21 and May 22, 2020, with the last day for students being May 20, 2020, teachers May 21.
Dr. Doerr said he had received quotes for the basement upgrade and renovation at the North School. The total cost should be around $215,000.00 including plumbing and electrical work and will be paid out of the monthly facilities sales tax money. All work will then be done at the North School, except for the proposed work on the gym floor; which would take place next summer. He thought the current work could be started in mid-June and potentially finished in July. The shade structure required by the Early Childhood grant will cost approximately $9,100 and will be constructed this summer as well. The structure will be a 30 foot by 32 foot pavilion.
At the recommendation of Doerr, the board approved an average increase in salary for educational support staff of 2 percent. This staff includes aides, secretaries, cooks, etc., but not bus drivers or custodians.
Doerr reported that Fayette County had passed the school use facilities tax in the last election. As the Nokomis district has one student who lives in Fayette County, the district needs to renew the distribution agreement with the ROE to ensure it receives that money each month. He anticipates the new money should come in around October or November.
Also, he explained the ROE has decided to create an alternative high school and junior high SAFE school for Christian and Montgomery counties, which will be located in Raymond and replace ChrisMont. Subsequently, the superintendents involved have met and decided most of the students currently attending ChrisMont would not qualify for the new schools, so ChrisMont would need to be retained. In order for ChrisMont to qualify for EBF (GSA) funds, a public school must act as its fiscal agent. Assuring the board this placed no additional financial obligation on the Nokomis district, he recommended that Nokomis act as the fiscal agent for ChrisMont.
The board also reviewed the Nokomis Jr./Sr. High School Student Handbook for 2019-2020. Members were told a separate committee was working on an athletic code handbook. It was noted the student handbook includes a cell phone ban in locker rooms and restrooms, and that most of the changes from the previous handbook dealt with truancy. It was also pointed out there were no changes in the sections regarding discipline, special education, or parents' rights. The board approved the 2019-2020 student handbook with Carl Fesser voting "no."
The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution not to re-employ pre-K aide Karen Milton for the 2019-2020 school year.
The board then approved on a voice vote a motion to adjourn.