By Kendra Hennis
The meeting of the Villa Grove Board of Education was called to order at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 21. Board member Jerrad Zimmerman was absent.
Following approval of the consent agenda, the board moved to discussion of the JFL usage agreement. Superintendent Carol Munson explained that she had sat down with Travis Orwick to discuss the JFL fees and official agreement previously made with the school. She explained with the agreement, the school and JFL program split costs 50/50. That currently means that the JFL program would need to pay $1,500 for this season, which is much higher than they have been paying, and most of their budget as they unfortunately missed a season and were unable to fundraise due to the pandemic. It was additionally noted that the JFL program is the only “feeder” program for the high school, so it is very important for the long-term success of the football team. Munson said she believes with all this being said, that $1,500 is too high of a fee for the program, and the board should instead look at a flat fee yearly. The board agreed and asked her to find the average paid by the program over the past year to determine a new number.
Superintendent Munson then gave her report to the board. She stated that the Press Plus 108 has been updated with IASB and would be released in May with all of the changes on the website. She reminded board members that they are mandated reporters and asked them to get their mandated reporter forms and statements of economic interest to her as soon as possible. Munson then reported to the board that the ESSER III funding packet had been approved. Clark asked Munson if the board would be able to get a spreadsheet with item expenses so that the board and community were able to see how the ESSER funding had been used (for ESSER I and II funding). To that, Munson replied that they would work on getting something together for them. Munson then stated that she wanted to begin a discussion with the board on how the school currently uses the Chromebook plan for students. She explained that prices on both Chromebooks and programs have risen significantly since the program began, making it hard to sustain long term. Chromebooks, previously $250, now start at $350 with only a six-year life for updates. It was asked if there was any kind of funding (aside from ESSER funding) that could be used to assist the school with costs. Munson stated that she was unsure but would look more into it, as well as discuss with surrounding districts to see how they utilize their Chromebook plans. The board will continue to discuss the plan at future meetings, stressing that it is important that they make this program sustainable for the school and “don’t go backwards” for students.
Elementary Principal Bobby Beck then began his report to the board. Beck began by congratulating the March students of the month, kindergartener Melody Mann, first grader Luke Schweighart, second grader Olivia Deedrick, third grader Landon Howard, fourth grader Rowan Faust, fifth grader Miles Swigart, and sixth grader Tucker McGarigle. He then stated that the preschool round up was held on Feb. 24 and 25, parent teacher conferences were held March 17 and kindergarten registration would be held March 30 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Beck noted that 43 percent of parent responses had been received for the 5Essentials survey, that ISA and IAR testing would soon be completed by necessary students, and thanked Ms. Parr and everyone who helped and came out to the S.O.A.R. night at the school. Beck ended noting that PTO Family Fun Night will be held April 8 and that Spring Break would be held April 14 through 18.
Junior High and High School Principal Sara Jones followed with a congratulations to Caleb Weissing for being named the March Student of the Month. She additionally congratulated Layne Rund for being named to the 2nd Team for All-Conference basketball, Ashton Harrison for being named in the LPC Conference, the students who competed in the three-point shootout contest, and the ACES team for advancing to state. Jones noted that spring sports had started and wished all good luck with their seasons; thanked Sondra Burwell, Bridget Taylor, and Ashton Hidelbaugh for organizing the Polar Plunge in Mahomet for the Special Olympics team; and thanked Marci Howard and the Student Council for a great winter dance. Jones continued by congratulating the high school scholastic bowl team on a great season, thanked Mr. Kestner and Mr. Rittman for organizing and hosting the Masonic Bowl in VG, thanked Mrs. Parr and the FFA for a great FFA week and all activities, and thanked Mrs. Parr and the FFA students and teachers who came out for the S.O.A.R. night. She then stated that a committee met to discuss the possibility of allowing dual sporting for students in winter sports. Jones said that following the discussion, the committee voted to allow students who were interested to participate in cheer, golf, and volleyball. Jones noted that all of the coaches agreed that they wanted to make this happen for students and were willing to work together to make it happen for students. Jones noted that this will likely only impact a few students, that students who chose to dual sport will still need to choose a designated primary sport, and that there may be conflicts in scheduling, especially in regional play. Jones ended stating multiple upcoming dates at the school: on March 31, HS will speak at Rotary; on April 1 the junior high dance will be held; on April 6 the junior high beef and boards will be held, the theater production on April 7, PTO Family Fun Night on April 8, SAT and PSAT testing on April 12 (no seniors this day); and Easter Break April 14-18. Solo and Ensemble will be held April 24; K-3 spring concert on April 26; Honors Banquet on May 3; FFA Banquet on May 4; Prom on May 6; Post-Prom on May 7; Freshman Orientation from 5 to 7 p.m. on May 9; and 5-12 grade band and choir concert on May 10. The eighth graders will be going to Springfeld on May 11; HS band and choir to beef and boards on May 11; Little Blue Devil Classic on May 13; last day for seniors is May 20; eighth grade promotion will be held May 26; there will be a 2 p.m. dismissal May 26 and 27; alumni banquet on May 28; graduation on May 29 at 2 p.m.; no school on May 30; students last day of attendance is May 31; and June 1 will be a teacher’s institute.
The board also:
* Approved the minutes of the special February 14 board of education and meeting minutes of the regular February 22 meeting.
* Approved authorization for the payment of bills.
* Approved the monthly treasurer’s report.
* Approved the final amended calendar for 2021-22.
* Approved the proposed calendar for 2022-23. Munson explained that this was the calendar overwhelmingly voted on by teachers and included three Fridays off in May that could be used for potential emergency days if needed.
* Approved IHSA membership renewal for 2022-23.
* Moved to closed session at 6:34 p.m. 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 to determine its validity as well as the discussion of specific students.
* Adjourned until the April 18 meeting at 6 p.m.