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Tuscola Board of Education discusses safety updates

By Kendra Hennis 
The Tuscola Board of Education called their monthly meeting to order on February 24 at 7 p.m. 

School Bookkeeper Jerri Quinn visited the board to voice her opinions about the movement of the offices in East Prairie. Right now, the East Prairie Administration and the District Administration are working in very cramped, close quarters. Mrs. Quinn gave her recommendations for the security update, and the board discusses the updates later in the meeting. 

The first order of business was a presentation by Hannah Steedly about the Golden Apple Program and their partnership with North Ward. Golden Apple is a scholarship program for future teachers in the state of Illinois. Mrs. Steedly has been a part of the Golden Apple program since high school and the experience allowed her to get hands on training before partnering with Tuscola. As a part of the program in their third year participants attend a summer workshop. Last year, they were able to host this summer camp at North Ward. This allowed participants to teach in the mornings and have class in the afternoons while gaining rural school experience. With the board’s permission, Mrs. Steedly would like to continue the program next year with North Ward Monday through Thursday from June 15 to July 2. 

In his Principal’s Report, Mr. Fiscus congratulated the FFA on their successful pie auction and Mrs. Munson on her victory and a thank you to the community for their support. He then noted that the Music Boosters Fundraiser was a sold-out success, he said that we “are so fortunate for our directors and we have such talented kids in the program.” Fiscus then told the board that he was approached by Kiwanis in regards to any projects needing to be done at the High School. After presenting his list, they decided on replacing the ceiling tiles in the downstairs of the south wing, the project will be completed over the summer. He noted that it is a very busy time at the High School; rehearsals for the Spring Musical have began and the show will run from March 12 to 15, he attended the IPA Breakfast with nominees Kelsey Slaughter and Lucas Kresin, girls basketball has ended and their awards night was held on Feb. 22, the dance team awards banquet was held Feb. 22, boys basketball Regionals will be held this week, indoor track has began, solo and ensemble will be held on March 7 at Heritage, baseball and softball have started practice, and a spring hi-five Friday has been scheduled for March 20. 

In her Principal’s Report, East Prairie Principal Mrs. Munson announced to the board what is happening at the middle school. East Prairie Volleyball just finished their conference tournament and will begin Regionals soon, she attended the IPA Student Breakfast with students Dominic Kersey and Michelle Reese, FFA Week is happening this week with different events at each school, and on February 27 the Seventh Graders went on a field trip to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield. 

In his Principal’s Report, North Ward Principal Mr. Wallace announced to the board some of the upcoming events at the Elementary School. This week, as a part of FFA Week, FFA would be at North Ward for AG in the classroom. There will also be a special art display at the school from Mrs. Flavin and students. He also announced that on Jan. 31, the school celebrated their 100th day of school with high-five Friday, the Student of the Month Award, and the Teacher of the Month Award. Mr. Wallace will be attending a behavior workshop on Feb. 26, he attended the IPA Student Recognition Breakfast with students Ainsley Rennert and Matthew Williamson. Finally, he announced some upcoming events at the school. This week there will be a hand washing and germ presentation, on March 3 Family Reading Night will be held, 1st Grade will take a field trip to the Little Theater at the end of March, and spring pictures will be held April 1.

In his Superintendent’s Report, school Superintendent Mr. Alexander presented to the board that the school’s finances are in order, he noted that there were some additional repairs but they were necessary. In regards to the building facility updates, there was a water leak in the high school parking lot but it was a city line and thus repaired by the city, there was gas leak in the boiler room Friday night at the school but it was repaired Saturday, and that there was a water heater leaking, however, he does not feel that it needs to be replaced at this time since there are two other working water heaters that would handle what is needed for the building. The school is need of new financial software by July 1, 2020 due to a change in the programs. Bookkeeper Jerri Quinn has been completing beta testing for the Common Goals programs, but does not feel like it will work well for our District. She would like to instead change to the SDS program. Mr. Alexander noted that he too was familiar with this program and would recommend that the board approves the change to it. The bill was included in the bill list for the board to later approve. He noted that the board may want to change the date of their May meeting since it falls on a holiday, this can be discussed at a later meeting. He then talked to the board about how he and Mr. Ingram talked to High School Guidance Counselor Justin Bozarth about the career tech program. This program would allow more Freshmen and Sophomores to get more information about trades careers, beginning with one class with more information. He noted that “there might be some bumps in the beginning.” It is also very important to Alexander that many types of trades jobs are looked at in this program, even those beyond what is normally thought of. Alexander then gave some information about the education shortage. Throughout the state they have noticed a decline in educators. He hopes that they can find a way to get more students involved and interested in teaching. 

Perhaps the largest area of discussion at the meeting was that of the security upgrades to the East Prairie entrance. In the January meeting, Mr. Alexander presented to the board three options for security upgrades to the entrance at East Prairie. The board was unanimous in their decision to keep exploring better options for the project. Board member Bob Devlin noted that he would like to receive community input about the project before they move forward with it. The board also considered other options to the area, such as having a security officer in that part of the building. Board member Brad Ingram raised concern about the project going uncompleted for long amount of time. The board decided to table the discussion and look for further opinions. They would also like to complete a facility study with the architect and community to see what would work best for the space and budget that is available. 

The board also:

– Approved an anonymous donation request in the amount of $1,255 for District lunch fees.

– -Approved a $100 donation from Brad and Terry Hornaday foIN r Help a Child. 

– Approved a $200 donation from TE Connectivity-Ian Rominger for Social Skills. 

– Approved a $300 donation from Bennett’s and Stickels for Hack Club. 

– Approved a $900 donation from the FFA Alumni to FFA.

– Approved a $235 donation from the Class of 1956 for girls basketball, boys basketball, FFA, and softball. 

– Approved the Risk Management Plan for 2020-2021.

– Approved the addition of a pass-through window at North Ward. 

– Approved the minutes from the January 27 board retreat. 

– Approved the minutes from the January 27 regular board meeting. 

– Approved the payment of bills in the amount of $867,920.85. 

– Approved the monthly Treasurer’s Report. 

– Approved the monthly Bookkeeper’s Report. 

– Approved setting East Prairie Promotion for Wednesday, March 20 at 7 p.m.

– Approved setting TCHS Graduation for Saturday, May 23 at 7 p.m. 

– Approved the 2019-2020 amended calendar. 

– Approved the 2020-2021 calendar.

– Approved the non-certified seniority list. 

– Approved adjourning to closed session to discus personnel, collective negotiating matters, and student discipline. 

– Approved the hiring of Emily Rusk as the North Ward Secretary. 

– Approved the retirement letter of Jeannie Craddock.

– Approved hiring Allison Irwin as the Special Education Teacher at East Prairie. 

– Approved adjourning until the March 23 meeting at 7 p.m. 

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