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Tuscola BOE approves construction bonds and contract

By Kendra Hennis
The February meeting of the Tuscola Board of Education was called to order at 7 p.m. on February 22 with all members present.

The search is over for Tuscola schools as the Tuscola Board of Education voted to approve a contract with Omni Energy Company as the Qualified Energy Service Company to complete the upcoming school projects. The interviewing committee of Jessi Young, Darold Spillman, and Superintendent Gary Alexander said that they felt Omni, even in the interview, was already working for them, coming with ideas and plans that they had for the school. The next step in the process is Omni coming in to assess the buildings and create a 5-year plan for them to bring to the board. 

The board also approved a resolution providing for the issue of General Obligation School Boards Series 2021, of the District for the purpose of increasing the Working Cash Fund and refunding certain outstanding bonds of the District, providing for the levy of a district annual tax sufficient to pay the principal and interest of said bonds, and authorizing the sale of said bonds to the purchaser thereof. The bond approval is in the amount of $5 million and will go towards construction projects at the schools in the district. The resolution was the final step in the bond process and the school is set to recieve funds on March 16.

Superintendent Alexander, in his monthly report to the board, said that the finances at the school were okay, with personnel expenses leading their costs. He did mention that the school’s revenues are currently ahead of their expenses, but they have received most of the revenue that they will receive already. He reported that the school has received an FOIA request, that the heat issue at North Ward  had been taken care of, and thanked the custodians for all of their extra work with the snow day last week. Alexander noted that Governor Pritzker’s current preliminary budget does not include any additional funding for evidence-based funding. He also said that the IASB meeting would be held in virtual format on February 25 if any in the board had interest in attending. He ended noting that the school calendar had changed a smidge due to the snow day. Students’ last day will now be June 1 and teachers is June 2. He will have the adjusted 2020-21 and first draft of the 2021-22 calendar at the March meeting. 

During his principal’s report Tuscola high school principal Steve Fiscus reported new and official dates for high school events due to lifted IDPH regulations. This includes Homecoming week at TCHS, set for March 22 – 27. Homecoming week will consist of spirit week the 22 – 27, Powderpuff football on March 24 at 5 and 6:30 p.m., Homecoming football game against Clinton on Friday, and Coronation on Saturday, March 27 at 7 p.m. for all TCHS students in a sport or school activity. Due to current IDPH guidelines none of these events are open to the public, however they will be streamed. Other dates include The spring musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, to be held April 27 through May 1. Senior college prep day will be held April 13, May 2 is set to be the spring band concert, with EP at 2 p.m. and the high school at 5 p.m., and Honor’s Day on May 1 at 10 a.m.

He also announced that the current football spectator policy limits visitors to 50, even with outdoor sporting events. This has caused the district to reach the decision to have home spectators only in attendance, with priority of family attendance and limited bleacher seats available. Events will be live streamed. A bright note in the guidance is that the pep band will be able to perform at football games. Fiscus ended noting that TCHS has held two zero-recovery days for students to attend. They had 66 students attend the first and 76 the second week. These zero recovery days allowed for 158 missing assignments to be made up that day, he hopes that more will continue to come and they will see steady improvement throughout the school year. 

East Prairie Principal Jared Vanausdoll followed noting that the volleyball and boys basketball seasons were coming to an end, with only four games remaining. He announced that eighth grade night would be held February 23 at TCHS. Vanausdoll then congratulated Evan Veril on his second place victory at the Douglas County spelling bee, Evan will move to regionals out on March 13 at Richland. Additionally, he congratulated Katy and Jazmine on their participation at the Douglas County and East Prairie spelling bees. He then thanked Mrs. Fowler, the East Prairie cheer coach, for holding cheer clinics every other Wednesday for potential cheerleaders. He also congratulated VFW Patriot Pen Award Winners honored today at TCHS: Trent Beyers, Macy Coad, Kyler Alhowani, and Jazmine West, and teacher Carmen Morgan for being named the VFW Citizen of the Year. Vanausdoll ended thanking Coach Pugh for all of her hard work in coaching and scheduling amidst a global pandemic, and snowstorms. 

North Ward principal Jason Wallace followed saying that certified staff evaluations have been completed at North Ward as well as parent discussions, more will follow on this in future meetings. He said that kindergarten screenings were scheduled at the Tuscola United Methodist Church. Wallace congratulated North Ward PE teacher Nolan Woller for being awarded the Empowering Education Grant for $500. Wallace ended saying Tuscola schools were doing great given the difficulties with the coronavirus pandemic. The staff was great covering for each other when needed, being amazing, and he said he is very proud and thankful for all that they do for the school district. 

The board also:
* Approved a $100 donation from Steve and Bev Wetzel for Help-A-Child.

* Approved a $250 donation from Bradley and Kristen Brown for Help-A-Child.

* Approved a $500 donation from the Victory Church of Camargo for Help-A-Child.

* Approved an anonymous $200 donation for SADD.

* Approved an anonymous $200 donation for Help-A-Child.

* Approved a $300 donation from Mary Reese for Help-A-Child.

* Approved the minutes from the January 25 regular board meeting.

* Approved the bills in the amount of $877,697.01.

* Approved the monthly Treasurer and Bookkeeper’s reports. 

* Approved moving to closed session for the purposes defined in 5 ILCS 120/2 c (1)-personnel, (9)-student discipline, and (11)-pending litigation. 

* Adjourned at 8:12 p.m. until the March 22 meeting at 7 p.m.

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