By Kendra Hennis
The meeting of the Villa Grove Board of Education was called to order at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 18. To abide by social-distancing guidelines, the meeting was recorded and posted to the school’s YouTube and Facebook pages.
As it has been for many meetings, the largest bit of discussion from the group was about if Villa Grove was going to continue their athletic co-op with Heritage beginning in 2021. The board began their discussion by hearing from the athletic committee. They presented that Heritage provided some good feedback to try to make the co-op work. Some of these options included splitting the season and having different practice locations.
The board touched on a lot of positives for staying in the co-op such as the financial benefits, teambuilding, and sportsmanship. However, they felt that a bad outweighed the good and that Villa Grove has enough students to support having their own teams. They have noticed that students choose to not go out for sports due to the size of the teams and that getting out of the co-op will benefit them. The board voted 6-1 to end the co-op with Heritage for the 2021 school year. The school will continue to co-op with Heritage for football.
The board also discussed some of the changes that are being made to next year’s student handbook and the rationale behind those changes. On the elementary side, first grade will now be using teacherease percentages for grading and students can make up unexcused absence work for a grade. Some of the changes at the high school include: prior approval from the principal or guidance counselor before signing up for work-study programs, students may only drop a class one day following the start of the new semester, and a parent or guardian must call, email, or send a note into the school within 2 school days of an absence for it to be considered excused. A final version of the school handbook will be approved at the June meeting.
Superintendent Norm Tracy then gave his report. He began by informing the board that the school’s employee insurance, Egyptian Trust, renewal rates went up by 10 percent. He also informed the board that the school had received an SMPG grant to replace the ag shop doors. Tracy also notified the board that the school would be receiving a $75,646 grant from the CARES act that will be used to purchase chromebooks for students.
Sara Jones, Junior High and High school principal then gave her report. she had a lot of thank you‘s for the staff and community of Villa Grove. Beginning with the board members for their time in recording the graduation ceremonies, to Mr. Cortes and Ava Vollmer for recording and taking pictures at the event, and Duane Piercy for recording the Baccalaureate address. She also thanked coach Block and coach Wilson for organizing senior celebrations for the softball and track teams and to Mr. Murawski and Mrs. Block for being in the school while kids came in and dropped off materials
Jones also noted that there would be a parade of seniors coming through Villa Grove on May 23 and encouraged the community to come out. She also discussed hopeful future plans for the senior class with prom set for July 25 and graduation being set for July 26 at 2 p.m.
Elementary Principal Bobby Beck followed with his principal’s report. Beck began by thanking Kathy and Brandy for preparing food for all of the students, in total they made over 8,400 meals. He also thanked all of the teachers for their hard work, from the ones coming in to pass out materials, to Mr. Reno and Mrs. Nieto for handing out packets to students. He also thanked parents and students for their hard work the school year and adapting with all of the changes.
Finally, board president Jim Clark thanked the Principles for their hard work and dedication to the students and the board moved into executive session.
The board also:
* Approved the minutes from the April 20 regular board meeting minutes.
* Approved the closed session minutes from the April 20 regular board meeting.
* Approved the payment of bills.
* Approved moving the June meeting to Thursday, June 18 at 6 p.m. to allow for a 30-day display of the tentative budget.
* Approved the tentative 2020-2021 budget to begin being displayed.
* Approved an increase in lunch prices. The new prices are: $3.10 for kindergarten through sixth grade, $3.35 for seventh graders through seniors, and $3.85 for adults.
* Approved moving to closed session to discuss the appointment, employment, resignation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, including hearing testimony on a complaint against an employee of the public body or against legal counsel for the public body to determine its validity.
* Approved the resignation of Emily Little as Elementary Classroom Teacher.
* Approved the hourly rate for Mr. Tracy for consultation services for the 2020-2021 school year.
* Approved the hiring of Matt Sanders as Volunteer Junior High Baseball Coach.
* Approved the hiring of Lindsay Wells as Elementary Classroom Teacher.
* Approved the hiring of Melissa Marrow as Elementary Classroom Teacher.
* Approved the hiring of Elaine Unas as Elementary School Teacher.
* Approved the hiring of Madison Smith as Jr High Dance Coach.
* Adjourned until the June 18 meeting at 6 p.m.