By Kendra Hennis
The meeting of the Tuscola Board of Education was called to order on Monday, October 25 at 7 p.m. The first order of buisness was a presentation of the 2020-21 audit by Mr. Russ Leigh. Leigh noted that the last year had been different due to COVID-19, but noted that that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing due to the increase in grants. He reported that both revenue and expenses were up in the last year, and that there was nothing major on the audit. Leigh reported that the state is now requiring that student activity funds now be reported in the education fund, and that TRS funds now have to be prepaid in June. He additionally commented that the expenses were pretty straight forward and in line, and that at this time things were looking good and showed a slight improvement. Following the presentation, the board approved the 2020-21 audit as presented.
The board them approved a resolution authorizing and providing for an Installment Purchase Agreement for the purpose of paying the cost of purchasing real or personal property, or both, in and for the District and for the issue of General Obligation Debt Certificates (Limited Tax), Series 2021, of the District for the purpose of building and equipping additions to, altering, repairing, and equipping District facilities and improving the sites thereof, and authorizing the sale of said Certificates to purchase thereof.
North Ward Principal Jason Wallace then began his report by informing the board that the school had completed their fire drills, that PBIS celebrations last week went well, and that he was done with the first round of evaluations. He then stated that on Wednesday, students would be celebrating with their “class houses” at a party; and that a character parade would be held on Friday at the end of the day. Students are encouraged to come to school dressed as their favorite book character. Wallace also stated that students would be enjoying Joe’s Pizza on Friday, on November 16 Texas Roadhouse would be holding their NW fundraiser, and stated that the PTO Book Fair went well. Wallace ended thanking Mrs. Wilmore for all of her work on the book fair, and all of the other educators and staff at North Ward for all of their hard work this semester.
Tuscola High School Principal Steve Fiscus followed with his report. Fiscus noted that Clue, on Stage! had just wrapped up at the school, and thanked all for their hard work on the production. He reported that fall sports were going well and beginning to slow down, with Makenna Fiscus, Brayden Gough, and Marley Good ending their golf season at Sectionals; football ending their 4-3 season last Friday; and volleyball playing their final match at regionals against Central A&M tonight. He also stated that Lia Patterson, Riley Vanausdoll, and the boys cross country team would be advancing to Sectionals this weekend. Fiscus additionally reported on October 20 the school had their fire drill, that 29 pints of blood were donated last week at the NHS blood drive, and that parent teacher conferences went well last week, with over 200 attending. He said that it was currently Red Ribbon week at the school, and thanked Mrs. Hoel and SADD for their assistance with that. He also sent a shout out to the Sunshine Committee for all of the positivity they have been sharing at school. Fiscus then noted that ten students would be attending FFA Nationals, that Tuscola would be hosting volleyball sectionals next week, and that basketball practice would be beginning in November. He also reported that the first Scholastic Bowl meet will be on Nov. 1, the Fall Sports Awards Banquet would be held November 4, NHS induction will be held Nov. 7 at 6 p.m., and the Veteran’s Day Assembly would be held Nov. 11 at 9 a.m., with the FFA breakfast beginning at 7:30.
East Prairie Principal Jared Vanausdoll followed, noting that students were excited about Red Ribbon Week, and thanked the high school for involving them with that. He commented that parent teacher conferences and fire drills went well. He announced that the first quarter honor roll was completed, with 117 students on it. He also announced a new Student of the Month program at the school where a student from each grade will be nominated and celebrated. This month’s winners were fifth grader Isabella Wilmore, sixth grader Sam Walker, seventh grader Ava Whitson, and eighth grader Claire Leonard. Vanausdoll said that all were very deserving of the honor and that they would be recognized on a banner as they entered the school. He then noted that the seventh and eighth graders would be having an outdoor dance under the awning on Friday, and thanked Student Council for putting that on. He ended by noting that the girls basketball season is going very well, with both teams currently ranked first in the conference, and that boys basketball would have their first game on November 2.
Superintendent Gary Alexander followed with his report. He noted that the school’s finances were currently in good shape, with a current increase in sales tax funds. He commented that if continued the school will be in good shape, and encouraged all to keep an eye on operating expenses. He followed discussing a Build Your Own Curriculum program that the teachers were trained on last week. He explained that it would take some time for this to be completed, but it would allow teachers to insert their curriculum, compare it to state standards, and provide a comprehensive list of all the things that were taught. He also thanked the Teacher’s Association for providing all Tuscola faculty and staff with free meals from POWWOW’s last week. He ended by noting that due to the bus driver shortage, spring sports may need to make some adjustments. Alexander explained that Shane Gould with Gould’s Bus Service, like many other bus services in the area, is experiencing extreme shortages in drivers this year, potentially leading to problems with games and getting kids home from school. He noted that they were trying to be preemptive with the issue, and that anyone interested in becoming a school bus driver should contact Gould’s Bus Barn.
The board also:
* Approved a $50 donation from Chuck and Glenna and White for STEAM Room (honor of Mrs. Bergner).
* Approved a $700 donation from Kiwanis for the STEAM Room.
* Approved a $250 donation from Syngenta for FFA.
* Approved a $2,392.98 donation from Lambo’s for T Club.
* Approved moving the December 27 meeting to December 16 at 7 p.m.
* Approved the minutes from the September 27 regular board meeting.
* Approved the payment of bills in the amount of $975,430.32.
* Approved the monthly Treasurer and Bookkeeper’s reports.
* Approved Hannah Steedly’s FMLA Request.
* Approved moving to closed session for the purposes defines in 5 ILCS 120/2 (c) (1)-Personnel, 5 ILCS 120/2 (c) (2)- Collective Negotiating Matters, 5 ILCS 120/2 (c) (9)-Student Discipline, and 5 ILCS 120/2 (c) (11)-Pending Litigation.
* Approved the hiring of Stan Wienke as TCHS Track Throwing Coach.
* Approved the hiring of Cassie Rennels as Guidance Counselor.
* Approved the hiring of Caleb Englehardt as volunteer JH boys basketball coach.
* Approved an administrator contract extension for Jared Vanausdoll.
* Approved an administrator contract extension for Gary Alexander.
* Approved a Remote Learning MOU with TEA.
* Adjourned until the November 22 board meeting at 7 p.m.