By Kendra Hennis
The meeting of the Tuscola Board of Education was called to order at 6 p.m. for a Special Board Retreat. Following their special meeting on May 19, the committee recommended Jerrod Baird to fill the vacancy on the Tuscola Board of Education. This recommendation was accepted to the board and Baird was sworn in.
The board then met with representatives from Omni to discuss the upcoming projects at the school. Omni presented some of the recommendations they got from their findings, such as; updating science labs, classrooms, media area, and library. Omni noted that their next step from here is developing a five-year plan with the board to focus on their priorities and budget. They noted that they would present their recommendations to the board and the board said that they would continue the conversation at future meetings or in committees.
The board adjourned from the board retreat at 7:12 p.m. and returned to regular session at 7:19 p.m. with all members present.
Following approval of the consent agenda, TCHS Principal Steve Fiscus gave his report to the board. He began with many thank you’s — to the ROTC recruiters for bringing the rock wall last week; all involved with Honors Day, including speaker Phil Edwards; donors in the MTSS Celebration; and those involved in putting the MTSS events together. Fiscus announced that finals were happening this week at the school Wed-Fri, and that Graduation would be held this Saturday at 7 p.m. in the gym. He noted that masks are required for attendance. Fiscus remarked that the spring musical and concerts went well, and thanked the students and teachers for all of their hard work. He additionally noted that baseball, softball, and track were all in full swing, with postseason happening next week.
Principal Jared Vanausdoll began his report with a thank-you to the parents, students, teachers, staff, administration, and community members for making this year possible. He also sent a thank-you to Tuscola Stone Company for their Kona Ice donation; all who dropped treats off during Teacher’s Appreciation Week; and the Retired Teachers Organization. Vanausdoll noted that the East Prairie Talent Show was held on May 15 and can be streamed online. He congratulated all track athletes on a great season, as well as thanked Coach Brewer and Coach Pugh for all of their hard work. Vanausdoll ended noting some upcoming dates at the school: Honors Day on May 28, Fun Day at EP on May 28, EP Promotion practice on May 28, and Promotion on May 29 at 2 p.m. in the high school gym.
North Ward Principal Jason Wallace followed by reporting that they were finished with IAR testing and just waiting on a few more with the MAP testing. He announced that Field Day went very well, and that it was a great day with a lot of teamwork throughout the school. He thanked Tuscola Stone Company for their Kona Ice Donation and announced that the end of the school year at North Ward consists of some trips to Ervin Park. Wallace ended by thanking all of the staff for their hard work this school year, noting that it wasn’t always easy, but that Tuscola schools were doing a great job.
Superintendent Gary Alexander followed with good news to the board on the finances side. He noted that in May the school received a corporate payment in the amount of $616,998, much higher than expected. He said that this is bringing the deficit down to $187,000, and that he was very happy with how the revenue turned out. Alexander then noted that there are a lot of opportunities for the board including the Joint Annual Conference, Economic Development Program, and EZ board if any members are interested to contact him or Brad Ingram.
He then announced that the State Superintendent ruled to the ISBE board that schools must resume in-person learning next school year for all students except those not eligible for the vaccine or sick with COVID-19. He noted that they are expecting updated guidance from them in the next two weeks, and hope to plan once they receive that.
The board then approved the tentative amended 2020-21 budget, placing it on display, and holding a budget hearing on June 28 at 7 p.m. to hear any public comment on the amended budget.
The board also:
* Read a thank-you from Mrs. Boyer for them for sending flowers at her mother’s passing.
* Approved a $100 donation from Bradley and Tammy Bennett Family for High School Band.
* Approved a $10,000 donation from Mark and Jody Furlong for HS Boys Basketball.
* Approved a $1,100 donation organized by Travis Surma and supported by friends of Joel Hilgendorf in his memory for the Warrior Store.
* Approved the minutes from the April 26, 2021 regular meeting.
* Approved the minutes from the May 17, 2021 special board meeting.
* Approved the payment of bills in the amount of $811,477.07.
* Approved the monthly Treasurer and Bookkeepers Report.
* Approved the MTSS Dates for 2021-22.
* Approved the Student Activity Fund for Concessions.
* Approved the Aramark Contract for 2021-22.
* Approved the Consolidated District Plan. Alexander noted that this needs to be approved yearly for grants and is the consolidated forms for those grants.
* Approved the MOU with Tuscola Education Association.
* Approved a $30 technology fee for 2021-22. This fee would be paid with other school fees and would cover damage to Chromebooks. Alexander noted that they are working on developing policies for the Chromebooks with the update of technology at the school.
* Discussed possible football field renovations for the future. Alexander noted that he had been approached about renovations. However, after talking with the company, they noted that for best results they should wait until after the track remodel. Alexander is going to follow up about the possibility of next fall after football or in the spring after track for any renovations.
* Discussed masks at upcoming board meetings. The CDC ruled that masks still must be worn in all school settings, will re-discuss if guidance changes.
* Requested closed session for the purposes defined in 5 ILCS 120/2 (c)(1) personnel, 5 ILCS 120/2 (c)(9) student discipline, and 5 ILCS 120/2 (c)(11) pending litigation.
* Approved the retirement letter of Angie Patton as TCHS Teacher.
* Approved the resignation of Jean Holmes as the MTSS Coach at TCHS.
* Approved the hiring of Lacy Diaz as the TCHS Cross Country Coach.
* Approved the hiring of Mandy Hanner as MTSS Coach at TCHS.
* Adjourned at l0:16 p.m. until the June 24 board meeting.