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VG BOE discusses updated IDPH/ISBE guidance

By Kendra Hennis 
The meeting of the Villa Grove Board of Education was called to order at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 18. 

Following approval of the consent agenda, the board moved to discussion of the IDPH/ISBE guidance. Board member Jerrod Zimmeman explained that currently the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) guidance for returning to school after testing positive for COVID goes by symptom date, while Carle Sports Medicine (for returning to sports) goes by test date. He said he wanted to bring it up because as an institution, it has been a point of confusion with so many dates. It was also noted that while the health department is continuing to monitor the schools, they are no longer completing contact tracing. Board President Jim Clark stated that the Return to Play policy currently in place has been helpful with identifying if athletes are ready to get back to sports and that he recommends keeping with their current Carle contract. There was agreement among the board that going by test date would make it easier for everyone to keep track of, and hopefully continue to minimize passing symptoms. It was added that testing is available at the school in the nurse’s office. Superintendent Carol Munson said she would be sending out updated guidance to explain the changes. 

Munson then stated that she would like to clarify that remote learning as it was previously known is not an option available for the school. The only way the school could go into an “adaptive pause” (where students would temporarily attend remotely) was if the Douglas County Health Department deemed the school unsafe to be in school due to an outbreak. Currently, the school has not reached that status. Munson added that there are also emergency days available to use in case of an outbreak. She said that currently things are going okay in the school and that they are in frequent communication with the health department. 

Superintendent Munson then continued with her report to the board. She presented Mattoon’s LIFT Program that would be available to limited Villa Grove students in the fall if the board was interested. The LIFT program is a program for juniors and seniors from the area that would allow them to go and learn about trades and leadership. She stated that if they were interested, it must be sent to them by March 1 and that the school would be able to send two students per pathway to the program. Munson said that the program was a little bit different than Parkland Pathways that provides dual-credit to students. However, students will recieve high school credit for their classes, have opportunities to earn certifications, and exposure to different programs. Munson said that this would be a wonderful opportunity for students. There was agreement among the board to express interest in the program, and Principal Sara Jones stated that they would soon be giving information to students.  

Elementary Principal Bobby Beck followed with his report, first announcing December Students of the Month: Iris Cox (kindergarten), Lennon Callaway (first grade), Jayce White (second grade), Adalyn Vail (third grade), Miguel Galarza (fourth grade), Trey Uptmor (fifth grade), and Wes Woller (sixth grade). Beck stated that TCI training was completed last week, MAPS Winter Benchmark Testing was being completed, and that the 5Essential Survey was sent out to be completed, urging parents to please complete it when received. He stated that fifth through eighth grade students were competing in a spelling bee, and thanked Ms. Wells ad Mr. Reno for their assistance with the bee. Beck noted that preschool screening is currently scheduled for February 24 and 25, with information being sent out on Teacherease, text, and the school’s Facebook page. He also stated that kindergarten registration was scheduled for March 30 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. To register, the child must be five by September 1, 2022 and it was asked that you please bring their birth certificate. Beck ended noting some upcoming events at the school: VG dance competition on February 5, 2 p.m. dismissal on February 16, spring pictures on February 17, and no school on February 21 for President’s Day.

Principal Jones followed by congratulating Ashlynn Smith for being named the January Student of the Month. She thanked Ms. Cardiff, Mr. Naplitano, and the Villa Grove band and choir students for an excellent after-Christmas concert. Jones stated that she had met with Nick Elder from Parkland and the district principal about the Perkins grant and that she was currently gathering things from teachers that were needed. Jones ended expressing sympathy grieving families and students in the community.

The board also:
* Heard public comment from Caleb Prosser. Prosser returned to the board asking them to reconsider the school’s current mask policy. 

* Approved the minutes of the December 20, 2021 board meeting.

* Approved the closed session minutes of the December 20, 2021 board meeting.

* Authorized the payment of bills. 

* Approved the monthly treasurer’s report. 

* Approved the Seniority Rosters of the certified staff.

* Approved the Seniority Rosters of the support staff.

* Discussed the ESSER III funding. It was stated that thus far there is nothing new and the school was working to compile feedback collected on the website. 

* Tabled discussion of Press Plus Issue #108 while they await ISBE’s standards for the sex education curriculm. 

* Superintendent Munson stated that she has been talking with the solar representative who said that things are currently on track and hopes to have a proposal for the board at the February board meeting.

* Approved moving 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 lodged against an employee of the public body or against legal counsel for the public body to determine its validity. 

* Approved the resignation of Laurie Blacketer, school nurse, effective February 11.

* Approved the hiring of Erin Pangburn for assistant girls volleyball coach. 

* Adjourned at 6:40 p.m. until the February 14 board meeting.

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