Nokomis Discusses Consortium

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President Chad Ruppert called the Nokomis school board into session on Tuesday, March 17, with six members present and Bauman attending via telephone.

The meeting opened with the reading of a thank you letter from the family of Mike O’Malley.

Superintendent Dr. Scott Doerr gave report to the board. The monthly spreadsheet indicated that the state of Illinois still owes the district $131,264.68, in mandated categorical payments. Third quarter payments are due on Tuesday, March 31, Doerr hopes to receive the second quarter payment by the end of this month.

The superintendent informed the board that a letter regarding the coronavirus had been sent out to parents and provided a timeline of all events that occurred between Friday, March 13 and Monday, March 16, including weekend updates and meetings. The administration team and the teachers union has been working to create e-learning plans. Doerr reported that he has been receiving daily updates (sometimes multiple updates) from the Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois School Board of Education, Governor’s office, Illinois Department of Public Health and other agencies. He anticipates that the governor will provide more updates and extensions in the coming weeks.

Doerr then provided an update on the Montgomery County Vocational Education Consortium. All juniors and seniors in Montgomery County will be offered dual credit courses through Lincoln Land Community College with one education course to be offered through the University of Illinois Springfield. Doerr will present a calendar for the 2020-2021 school year at the next meeting. He reported that he toured a building in Litchfield that could feasibly become the Montgomery County Innovation Center, stating that it would definitely have enough room for all of the courses that the consortium plans to offer. They are working with sponsorships and partners to help in bringing new programs, certifications and curriculum and will be applying for a Rebuild Illinois Capital Grant. The center will not only be open to high school students but also to adults in the late afternoon and evenings for job training.

Doerr then spoke about House Bill #4783, which will require school districts to remove all mascots that reference Native-Americans. The bill has passed out of committee on a party-line vote and currently sits on the house floor, in the order of second reading, where it can be amended. From Doerr’s understanding, the amendment will create a task force, made up of Native-American groups and appointed by the governor, to determine the authenticity of school mascots. This is estimated to effect about 80 districts within the state. According to Doerr, this amendment (if filed) will require each district to submit a request for permission to use the mascot. Schools that are not approved will be required to change mascots or will be banned from participating in post-season play with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), which is not regulated by the state of Illinois.

Doerr then moved the discussion to the Capturing Kids Hearts program, which provides professional development for teachers regarding  raising the bar on classroom performance while competing against social, environmental and additional outside pressures that students face. The program’s goal is for classrooms to be better managed through strengthening student-teacher connections and establishing collaborative behaviors and increased student achievement. Doerr explained that the program is completed in three steps that include a two-day paraprofessional training regarding tools and resources to better support teachers, a one-day training to customize the program to fit the district’s needs and to provide 14 teachers with the skills needed to become future trainers, and an on-site visit with other teachers to help develop professional connections.

Doerr reported that the meeting for the Building and Grounds committee and the Illinois Association of School Boards Kaskaskia Region spring meeting have been cancelled. He also informed the board that the district received one Freedom Of Information Act request in the last month, from Vince Espinoza  with a news station in the northern part of the state, requesting the district’s grading scale.

The board moved into executive session at 8:10 p.m. and reentered into regular session at 9:33 p.m.

Kevin Reedy, Rachelle McDowell and Kevin McDonald then gave principal’s reports.

The board unanimously voted to suspend Steven Dangbar for 15 home games and gave him a one year probation for all extra curricular activities effective Wednesday, March 18.

In new business, the board voted in favor of approving the bid package for masonry work at South Middle School/Cornerstone. They also approved the agreement with Hillsboro Area Hospital for athletic trainer services, to begin in August 2020.

Board members passed a motion approving tenure status to Jennifer Doyen, Lisa DeWerff, Tara Follis, Daniel DeWerff, Lydia McDonald and Morgan Johnson and accepted the resignation of Paul Watson as the freshman boys basketball coach at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year. A motion was passed to approve several teachers for the 2020-2021 school year including Marissa Hartke as agriculture teacher, Christine Jones as elementary art and music teacher and Dan DeWerff as the high school varsity basketball coach.

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