By Kendra Hennis
The Villa Grove board of education called their monthly meeting to order on Monday, September 20 at 6 p.m. with Bill Fulk absent.
The first order of business was the approval of the final budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022. Superintendent Carol Munson noted that there had been no major changes to the budget since presented at the August meeting.
Coach Wilson then came to the board to discuss needed repairs to the baseball field before the upcoming season. Wilson presented a few repair options and prices to the board, and stressed that whatever decision they made should be made quickly as the dirt needed to be laid soon so that it could settle before winter. The board approved an $8,000 project with Anderson Outdoor Sport for new dirt on the field. With their approval, Wilson said that he would get that ordered on Tuesday and have it installed as soon as they could.
The board then discussed a proposal they had received from a group interested in having them join them in regards to COVID related issues (executive orders, agency directives, mandates, etc.) The group says that current guidelines present districts’ challenges from opposing interests while district administration is uncertain regarding local control to manage the challenges. The group is discussing potential legislation in an attempt to enforce local control by achieving legal clarity and defending the autonomy of local boards. Board members said that while they wanted local control, they understood that to be a lot of work and decision making on their part. Board President Jim Clark clarified that even if the board chose to participate in this and gain local control, they could still follow state mandates. He noted that it just allowed for the school to make more decisions, especially in the case of school closings. Board members ultimately decided that they were interested in finding out more information, but would not yet make a decision on participation with the group.
Superintendent Munson then announced that as of last Friday’s meeting, there have been no changes from Governor Pritzker or the Illinois State Board of Education in regards to COVID guidelines. Munson noted that the vaccination or weekly testing mandate has been a little tough on them due to supply shortage, but it was nice to be able to complete testing and certify in the school. She reported that they have been tracking COVID cases and noticed that the school has not been a large spreader. Munson then told the board that they were still gathering damage from the lighting strike on August 26. She said they were currently at over $17,000 in damaged items and still finding more things and that an insurance adjuster would be at the school soon to access the final damage. Munson then noted that the school had received a significant amount of ESSER II funding that would be used for cleaning, sanitizing, PPE, summer programs, aides, tutoring, curriculum, SEL, and more. She also stated that the school’s water heater needs a softener put on it, as it is testing high in calcium and that the school’s lights had all been replaced with more energy efficient lighting through an Ameren program.
Junior High and High School Principal Sara Jones then gave her report to the board. She congratulated Molly Little for being named the September Student of the Month and the junior high softball team for advancing to the Regional finals. She then thanked the junior high and high school students for a great turnout for Open House, as well as the Villa Grove Chamber of Commerce and FFA for coming and providing food and mums. Jones also thanked the Army National Guard for bringing the rock wall for pe classes, the Rotary Club for hosting the new teacher picnic, all who assisted with Stadium Seats, and to the Booster Club for Blue and Gold night. She then noted that she had attended the FFA alumni kickoff meeting and a meeting with LPC Principals. Jones reported that 24 FFA students had attended the Farm Progress Show in Decatur earlier in the month, that the Blue Crew was doing great this school year, concerns with the Spanish program had been addressed, and set the Back to School cookout with VG faculty and board for Oct 16. Jones noted that homecoming festivities were taking place this week, with a bonfire on Wednesday, parade on Friday at 2 p.m., football game at 7 p.m., and coronation at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Jones ended reporting some upcoming dates for the school: 11:30 dismissal on September 24, JHOC meeting on September 29, Grand Opening at the Korner Beehive with FFA on October 2, JH science club trip on October 6, Ag Field Day on October 7, Teachers Institute on October 8, FB Senior Night on October 8, No school on October 11, Volleyball Senior Night on October 14, and the variety show on October 15.
Elementary Principal Bobby Beck then reported open house numbers for this year that were all above 60 percent, and thanked the FFA for joining. He said a fire drill had been completed on August 27, and that a bus evacuation and ALICE drill were being scheduled. Beck then thanked the teachers, students, and specifically Susan Johns for their work and competition of MAPS testing. He reported that 100 students are receiving weekly snack packs from the Snack Pack Program, and thanked those who assisted with the cause. He noted that he had attended Special Education EAISE updates with Mrs. Burwell on September 9, that sixth grade attended Stewardship Day at Walnut Point on September 9, the first PTO meeting was held September 1, and the Club’s Choice Kickoff was Friday, September 17.
The board also:
* Introduced the new art teacher.
* Approved the regular and closed session meeting minutes from the August 16 meeting.
* Authorized the payment of bills.
* Approved the monthly Treasurer’s report.
* Approved the final reading and approval of PRESS Plus #107.
* Accepted the resignation of Meagan Quigley from the Villa Grove board of education.
* 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 of the public body or against legal counsel for the public body to determine its validity; discussion of specific students; and board member vacancies.
* Adjourned until the October board meeting.