By Kendra Hennis
The meeting of the Villa Grove Board of Education was called to order at 6 p.m. on Monday, November 16. All board members were present for the meeting.
The meeting began with public comment from Brad and Nichelle Drew. The Drews came to the meeting to address the board in regards to a notice of a change in policy that would not allow homeschooled children to participate in sports and extracurricular activities through Villa Grove schools. Drew explained that she also spoke extensively with school administration to ensure that her child would be able to participate before making the decision to homeschool them this year, and asked the board to reconsider implementing the policy change until next year.
Erin Pangburn also provided her input to the board about the notice the Drews had received. Pangburn said that while it was not anyone’s fault that this had happened, the board had the opportunity to make it right and allow the student to play.
Jeana Block then presented the board information for them to consider if they choose to continue with the basketball season.
Board President Jim Clark then explained that the Drews had received notice of the policy change because Superintendent Carol Munson just uncovered it during her administration change. There was no action taken by the board on the matter, but the policy already in place says that homeschooled students are not able to participate.
Following approval of the consent agenda, the board moved to the Athletic Committee Update. Board member Jarrad Zimmerman reported that they had not received any new correspondence from Heritage. Heritage would like them to consider allowing them to be a part of the football program, so they are waiting on a response from Heritage on their offer.
Zimmerman noted that the Athletic Committee also discussed the policy being referenced for homeschooled students. He said there is an issue with allowing the participation since the policy is already in place. Clark further noted issues of different requirements and regulations at the school that are less regulated when being homeschooled. However, there is the option of the student re-enrolling at the semester which would grant them the ability to participate.
As for basketball, they said that the updated guidance (not including new guidance given by Governor Pritzker to begin November 20) and reclassification of basketball as a high-risk sport, makes it a bad idea to put the school at jeopardy of a lawsuit. They noted that although it is very unlikely, if someone were to get infected and charge the school, it would not be covered by insurance, so the school can not afford to take the risk. Clark also responded that there are also very few schools in the conference who planned to continue with the season. There is also the added concern of rising cases in the county. Given the tough decision and ever-changing guidelines, the board opted to wait until the December meeting to give an official decision.
The board then moved to Superintendent Carol Munson’s report. Munson reported that the 2019 audit had been completed by Russell Leigh & Associates. Leigh noted no issues in the audit, and he and Munson will be meeting soon to go over it at length. Munson said that most of the construction projects at the school are being finished up. There was a storm drain installed, traffic wallers at pick-up and drop-off, and the cracks in the gym walls have been repaired.
During his Principal’s Report, Elementary School Principal Bobby Beck began by congratulating the November Students of the Month. These included Lynnon Ellis (Kindergarten), Gunner Hyre (1st Grade), Avery Lake (2nd Grade), Ainsley Arthur (3rd Grade), Nick Gire (4th Grade), Carson Kappes (5th Grade), and Cameron McGaughey (6th Grade). He then informed the board that the Title 9 Conference he and Mrs. Munson attended was very informative, that there was a good turn out at parent teacher conferences, and that the virtual variety show would be held November 20. Beck ended saying that he really missed having the Veterans in the school to celebrate them on Veteran’s Day, but that the virtual assembly had been posted on YouTube and Facebook. He thanked all of the teachers for preparing the students as well as Mrs. Howard for organizing.
Junior High and High School Principal Sara Jones began her report by thanking the Class of 1969 for a new scoreboard in the new gym. On the junior high side, Jones informed the board that there was a nice turnout at parent teacher conferences and that student council voting would be taking place this month. On the high school side, congratulations were in order for Daniel Olson and Amelia Williams for being selected for the District 5 Honors Choir as well as Alexa Howard for being named November Student of the Month. She noted low attendance at parent teacher parent teacher conferences, aside from Mr. Kestner who had 75 percent turnout. Jones also announced that the senior class made $980 on their Beef House rolls fundraiser. She thanked the junior high and high school teachers for teaching live online during the past two week full remote learning, as well as everyone in the district who stepped in and covered classes when needed. Upcoming dates at the school include Thanksgiving Break beginning November 25 to November 27, Semester Exams on December 21 and 22, and Christmas Break from December 23 to January 4.
The board also:
* Approved the regular and closed session minutes from the October 19 regular board meeting.
* Authorized the payment of bills.
* Approved the tentative 2020 Property Tax Levy. Superintendent Munson recommended to the board a 2 percent increase in the levy to allow them to capture all of the revenue for the school.
* Approved a resolution, tax abatement for G.O./Alternative Revenue Source, Series 2019A. This ensures that these bonds are paid from the correct accounts.
* Approved the final reading of PRESS Plus Issue #105.
* Moved to closed session to discuss the appointment, employment, compensation, 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 for the public body or against legal counsel for the public body to determine its validity and/or the discussion of specific students.
* Learned that Gavin Gunter and Carisa Jones had placed their bids to fill the vacant board of education position.
* Adjourned until the December board meeting.
Note: Governor J.B. Pritzker declared the entire State of Illinois to be under Tier 3 Mitigations as of Friday, Nov. 20 due to rising COVID-19 cases. This puts a number of areas and industries “on pause” until further notice (including high school basketball). Others are still remaining open, but with additional restrictions.