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Tuscola school board sets budget hearing for June 25

By Kendra Hennis 
The meeting of the Tuscola school board began at 6 p.m. with a board retreat. The regular session of the meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. To adhere to social-distancing guidelines, the board met in the school’s cafeteria and live-streamed the meeting to the school’s Facebook page. 

The first order of buisness was TCHS Principal Steve Fiscus’ report. He began by thanking Mr. Bozarth for his work with Honors Day. The awards ceremony handed out $82,000 in scholarships to students. He also thanked Mrs. Hornaday for compiling the graduation video and all of her hard work on the project. Both were considered very successful in the school received a lot of compliments. He said he deemed it the best option for the kids all things considered. He also sent a thank you to all of the teachers and students for their hard work in finishing the semester. Finally, he noted that the remote learning committee has been meeting and preparing should this situation ever happen again or if school cannot resume like normal in the fall. 

Following, North Ward Principal Jason Wallace gave his report.  Wallace reported that meetings with staff and students have been going well. He and his remote learning committee I’ve been making plans for the fall just in case as well. He then noted some changes coming to the PBIS/SEL learning program. The students will change to having eight “houses” of groups of students throughout the school. The program is said to show team building and works well in other schools. He ended with some thank you’s to Mr. Dees and Mrs. Rusk for their time in Tuscola, both will be changing school districts next year. 

East Prairie Principal Carol Munson then gave her report. She reported that like the others she and her staff were working on a remote learning planned for the future if necessary. She went on to thank the teachers and staff on a great year, the lunchroom staff are preparing meals for the district, the tech department for all their support, all the teachers and staff for their work with her about learning, and Sara and the other school secretaries for coordinating with the families and students. She also sent a message to the eighth graders, congratulating them on all of their hard work. She said that she wished they could have had another celebration, but she wishes them all the best and hopes they have a great summer! She finally thanked the district and community for including her with their celebration for the retiring teachers leaving East Prairie. Mrs. Craddock retired after thirty-three years with the school, Mrs. Williams after twenty-five, and Munson will be joining Villa Grove schools as their superintendent in the fall. 

Tuscola Superintendent Gary Alexander then gave his report. In regards to finances, Alexander noted some changes in order for the totals to be correct. He stated that summer cleaning has began at all schools, and the windows have been cut in the doors for passby windows to be installed. Online registration will be held from June 1 to July 21. He also notified the board that the school health insurance premium would increase by 10 percent next year. Alexander then commented on the previous discussion of moving to digital records saying that after discussion with Mrs. Quinn, they recommend the board just keep doing what they have due to needing the files. Finally, he discussed the board conference that is scheduled for October. He did say if board members felt comfortable going that it would be beneficial for them to register soon. 

To this, Board President Cathy Mannen began the discussion on sending members to the conference. Board members who previously attended the conferences say it’s beneficial to attend and that they learn a lot. Board members who are interested will email Mannen and the board will decide from there who to send based on who did not attend previously. 

Under old buisness, the board discussed some changes to the entrance at East Prairie Middle School. The boardroom will now be split in half by a wall with half serving as the boardroom and the remainder as the principal’s office. There will be a door cut into the existing principals office for a pass by window. And finally, the handicap acceptable bathroom will be put in near the water fountains. The board unanimously approved these changes. 

The board then moved on to new business. The board approved the 2019-2020 budget, And set a public hearing for June 25 at 5 p.m. They also accepted a bid from Grumbo construction for $262,000 for the East Prairie project and the building of seven classrooms. They ended thanking the retirees on all of their work for Tuscola during their time at the school. They reflected on the successful car parade and thanked all that came out. The retirees were thanked with plaques of appreciation and they’re hopeful they can have a full celebration later. 

The board also:

* Approved a donation in the amount of $100 from Bill and Andrea Englehardt for Help a Child.

* Approved a $100 donation from Ian Rominger-TE Connectivity for Social Skills. 

* Approved the donation of a pull-behind trailer for the school district from Bruce Noffts.

* Approved the minutes from the April 27 regular board meeting.

* Approved the payment of bills in the amount of $802,358.22.

* Approved the monthly treasurer and bookkeeper’s reports.

* Approved the MTSS dates for 2020-2021.

* Approved the MOU with Parkland College for transitional math.

* Approved the athletic training services agreement with Carle.

* Approved the tentative 2019-2020 budget. 

* Approved moving to closed session to discuss personnel. 

* Approved the resignation of Ashley Owen as NW Paraprofessional. 

* Approved the resignation of Luke Johnson as Freshman Boys Basketball coach.

* Approved the hiring of Adam and Maria Crutchley as volunteer coaches for TCHS Cross Country.

* Approved the hiring of the summer help list.

* Adjourned until the June regular board meeting.

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