By Kendra Hennis
The meeting of the Tuscola board of education was called to order at 7 p.m. on January 25 will all members present. The meeting began with a public hearing to hear any public comment on the increase of working cash bonds. There was no public comment, the hearing was adjourned at 7:01 p.m. and the board moved to regular session.
Moving to the principal’s reports, North Ward Principal Jason Wallace reported to the board that they are working on updates to an exercise room for staff as well as additional classrooms. He also sent a shout out to the school’s substitute teachers for all of their hard work this school year. Wallace said there are few substitutes working right now and he appreciates them all for being so adaptive. He ended saying that the schools were doing a great job and he wanted to thank all of them for their hard work.
TCHS Principal Steve Fiscus followed saying that he was excited that sports would likely be resuming with Region 6 of Illinois staying in Phase 4. He said that he didn’t yet know what the seasons would look like, but he was glad to see practices starting and games hopefully starting soon. He then said that he hoped that all the extracurriculars could get started soon as well. He also reported that this semester had a decrease of remote learners down to 49 in the school. Fiscus then told the board that the school would be beginning zero recovery days on every other Wednesday at the school to allow remote learners to come into the school after school for additional help. He encouraged students to come in for help and noted that he hoped that this would be helpful for students as they have seen an increase of failed courses last semester. He ended noting that it was #tuscolakind week at Tuscola schools and thanked students and Mrs. Wienke for all they did for the week.
Jared Vanausdoll, East Prairie Principal, then reported that the school spelling bee would be held on February 4 and then the district bee would follow on February 10. He then said that he and the kids were excited that they could begin practicing for volleyball and boys basketball. Vanausdoll noted that the IESA planned on keeping their schedule for sports, meaning that girls basketball and track would be played at the same time. He said that he is working with the coaches to make it the best possible for all students. He followed congratulating the numerous students on this semester’s honor roll. Vanausdoll then said that eighth grade career day would be held in virtual format this year, that zero recovery days would also be held at East Prairie, and that #tuscolakind week was a success thus far, with two boxes of shoes donated to the school on Monday.
Superintendent Gary Alexander followed with his report, beginning with a look at the school’s finances. He said that currently the personnel and operating expenses are a little higher than expected with the revenue down. He then thanked First State Bank for their donation of $533 from the Warrior Card. He thanked the community for the use of their cards and allowing them to use the funds towards #tuscolakind week. Alexander then noted that there are three candidates registered for the upcoming April election, with one from range 7 and one from range 8 that are eligible. He reported that members Jessi Young and Darold Spillman would be on the handbook committee. He ended noting that they would need to decide on a performance committee to send proposals for a performance contractor.
Following return from executive session, Alexander noted that the school’s tentative preliminary amount to recieve from the CARES Act is $500,000, however that amount has not been confirmed and the school does not have an expected date for them to recieve it. He said the goal with the money is to make sure the school has cleaning supplies and to update the technology in the district.
The board also:
* Heard communications from RISE Mental Health thanking the schools for their donation from the jeans fundraiser. They noted that the funds were very helpful to assist with outpatients due to COVID-19.
* Approved a $583.33 donation from First State Bank for the school district.
* Approved a $630 donation from Tuscola Kiwanis, a $100 donation from Jeannine Fortney, a $100 donation from Mike and Angie Bergner, a $100 donation from Dee Ann Bates, a $500 donation from Tuscola Stone Company, a $250 donation from Brad and Terry Hornaday, a $500 donation from James and Dorothy Voyles, a $100 donation from Kaskaskia Ladies Golf, and an anonymous $1000 for Help-A-Child.
* Approved a $100 donation from Ian and Suzanne Rominger for Social Skills.
* Approved the Administrative Policy and Procedures revision.
* Approved the minutes of the December 17 regular board meeting.
* Approved the minutes of the January 6 special board meeting.
* Approved the bills in the amount of $907,470.58.
* Approved the monthly Treasurer and Bookkeeper’s reports.
* Approved the seniority list for 2021-2021.
* Approved the 10-year Health Life Safety Amendment. It was noted that the school had met codes and minor things noted had been completed.
* Approved the recommendation to destroy executive session recordings older than 18 months.
* Approved the recommendation to continue to seal the minutes and seal all previous executive session minutes.
* Approved the first reading of the Risk Management Plan for 2021-2022.
* Set the Tuscola Community High School Graduation date for Saturday, May 29.
* Approved MOU with Parkland College.
* Approved moving to closed session for the purposes defined in ILCS 120/2 – personnel, negotiating matters, student discipline, and pending litigation.
* Approved the resignation of Michael Rosenbaum as TCHS Cross Country Coach.
* Approved maternity leave for Kara Bosch, Emily Hallett, and Amanda Pfeifer.
* Approved principal contacts for Jason Wallace and Steve Fiscus for 2021-2024.
* Adjourned at 8:24 p.m. until the February 22 meeting at 7 p.m.