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Tuscola BOE approves dates for graduation, promotion

By Kendra Hennis 
The meeting of the Tuscola Board of Education was called to order at 7:oo p.m. on Monday, February 28 with all members present. 

The first order of buisness was a presentation from OMNI representatives on the status of the building upgrades project. They stated that they had been meeting with the school to see what works best in different areas, discussed the possibility of a green energy upgrade to the board, and stated that they would be beginning work at the school at the end of March. They said that they hoped to complete most projects at the school during the summer, but that beginning some of the projects early will allow for them to complete the projects during that timeline. They additionally stated that during the summer they would be holding weekly safety status meetings between contractors that the board is invited to attend, and that they will provide updates and project pictures as they were available. 

The board then heard from East Prairie Principal Jared Vanausdoll. He stated that the boys basketball team and seventh grade volleyball team had finished their great seasons, and that the eighth grade volleyball team was competing this weekend. Vanausdoll then congratulated Evan Vearil for winning the District Spelling Bee and wished him luck at the regional competition. He stated that the Music Boosters concert held over the weekend was a big success, that testing had been moved back at the school, and that eighth grade career day would be held on March 2. Vanausdoll then thanked Coach Beth Pugh for her fundraising efforts for TCHS graduate Dylan Taylor, who is battling osteosarcoma, and stated that she had raised $1,300 to help the expenses.

Tuscola High School Principal Steve Fiscus followed, stating that the Spring Musical, “Disney’s Descendants” has been pushed back to March 17-19, with shows at 7 p.m., and family and staff shows held on March 15 and 16. He stated that it is expected to be a popular production and has over 30 students involved and that tickets are available to be purchased in advance for showings. Fiscus then congratulated Mr. Sterkel for being the recipient of a $500 grant, thanked all of the presenters at this year’s Career Day, and stated that the Music Boosters concert last weekend went really well. Fiscus continued stating that the Math Team competed in the contest last Saturday, FFA week held last week at the school was a success, and that the girls basketball team had ended a great season at sectional semifinals as regional and conference champions. He said that the boys basketball team was competing in the sectional semifinals on March 1, that the indoor track season had started, and that baseball and softball had held their first practice today. He noted a change in the school schedule and that a 2 p.m. dismissal would be held on April 5 due to a motivational speaker coming to the school, and that on April 13 the seniors would have the day off for a college day and that the freshman, sophomores, and juniors would be completing state mandated standardized testing. 

North Ward Principal Jason Wallace continued the reports to the board. He stated that the monthly house parties as part of the students’ social, emotional, learning have been really successful and fun to watch the students work together. Wallace stated that the social work need is on the rise at the school and that it has been sad to see all of the kids that have been struggling, and thanked all of the teachers and social workers for all of their support. He said that the FFA barnyard and Ag in the classroom with the high school students was wonderful, that the second round of math assessments have been completed, that the Joe’s Pizza fundraiser went well, and that staff observations and evaluations have been completed. Wallace ended sending a big thank you to all of the staff at North Ward for being great and said that he appreciated all of them. 

Superintendent Gary Alexander then provided the final report to the board. Alexander stated that he was continuing to monitor the school’s finances, with personnel being the biggest expense, and noted that they were all working to keep expenses down. He stated that the ISBE division meeting would be held on March 23 if any board members were interested, and thanked the custodians for all of their clean up during the winter weather. Alexander noted that in the amended calendar the board would discuss, that the school year had been slightly extended but there was still an emergency day available in case it was needed. He then stated that he was waiting to start next year’s calendar as the school year may need to begin a little later depending on construction.

The board then approved the amended 2022-2023 school calendar. The updated calendar moves the students’ last day to May 26 and the teachers’ last day to May 27. It was stated that if no emergency days are used prior to Monday, April 18 there would be no school. The board additionally approved setting Tuscola High School Graduation for Saturday, May 28 and EP Promotion for Thursday, May 26. 

The board also:
* Approved a $100 donation from Douglas County Retired Teachers for EP Scholastic Bowl. 

* Approved a $600 donation from Tuscola Kiwanis for Help A Child.

* Approved a $600 donation from Tuscola Kiwanis for Help A Child.

* Approved a $100 donation from Dennis and Mary Opperman from FFA.

* Approved an anonymous $100 donation for Drama Club. 

* Approved a $100 donation from Donna Dietrich/Cindy Little for North Ward supplies.

* Approved the Risk Management Plan for 2022-2023.

* Approves the minutes from the January 24, 2022 regular board meeting and the January 27, 2022 special board meeting.

* Approved the payment of bills in the amount of $776,953.91.

* Approved the monthly treasurer and bookkeeper’s reports.

* Approved the school policy of making masks recommended to be worn on school buildings and on buses.

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

* Approved the resignation of Suzanne Rominger from TCHS Student Council.

* Approved the resignation of Avery Sandiford as TCHS Ag Teacher.

* Adjourned until the March board of education meeting.

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