By Kendra Hennis
The meeting of the Tuscola Board of Education was called to order on Monday, May 23 at 7 p.m.
Following the approval of donations, the board heard from the school principals. Tuscola High School Principal Steve Fiscus led with his report to the board. He sent a thank you to Miss Church and Mr. Cowsert for the wonderful spring concert, as well as a thank you to all who assisted or donated towards the high school’s Honors Day. Fiscus announced that they had awarded $142,000 in scholarships at Honors Day, the highest in the school’s history. Fiscus then sent a thank you to the MTSS staff and to all who donated towards the school’s picnic at the end of Honors Day last week. He additionally thanked all of the substitute teachers who have helped throughout the year, and noted that anyone who is interested should look into getting their certificate for substitute teaching. He sent congratulations to the softball team for winning their regional game tonight, the baseball team on a wonderful season, the girls track team on a great season and their state championship, and to the Tuscola boys track team and those who had qualified for state this weekend on a wonderful season. Fiscus noted that finals will be held Tuesday through Thursday at the school, and that students will have a shortened dismissal schedule. He then stated that graduation would be held on Saturday at 7 p.m. and that he and the students were excited for the renovations to begin over the summer.
The board then heard from East Prairie Principal Jared Vanausdoll. He began by thanking everyone for a wonderful school year. He then sent thanks for the Teacher’s Appreciation Week treats, as well as to Coach Bart Brewer and Coach Beth Pugh on a wonderful track season. Vanausdoll stated that last week students completed a project with Omni Energy attempting to cook pizzas with solar power; and that fifth grade students worked on an egg-dropping experiment with the Tuscola Fire Department. He noted that Honors Day would be held on Wednesday, that students would enjoy many fun days this week, and that promotion would be held on Thursday at 7 p.m. at TCHS.
Following, the board heard North Ward Principal Jason Wallace’s report. He stated that field day had been held at North Ward last week and that it was a lot of fun, that students had visited Scovill Zoo last week, and that classes were enjoying days at the park soon. Wallace reported that MAPS testing had been completed at the school and that the students were doing well. He ended with a big thank you to everyone, including all of the substitute teachers, on a wonderful school year.
School superintendent Gary Alexander then gave his report to the board. Alexander said that the school had received Corporate Tax Funds at a much higher rate than expected; and while that is a good thing, it is not something they should expect in the future. He noted that building funds with gas and electricity prices are increasing and that they are doing their best to manage funds in those areas. He stated that the budget had been minorly amended since its last approval to reflect the sale of bonds as well as some expenses that needed to be moved around. Alexander reminded board members that the Joint Annual Conference was coming up in November and asked board members who are interested in attending to let him know. He informed board members that they were looking at a 13 percent increase in pricing for school health insurance. He also notified board members that summer construction began at East Prairie today and that he was excited to see what would be completed; as well as that he had met with representatives from the city and Ameren about moving the transformer at the high school and it seemed like that would be possible.
Following, the board approved the tentative amended 2021-2022 budget and set the amended budget hearing date for Monday, June 27 at 7 p.m., before the next board meeting. The budget will be on display at the school for the next 30 days.
The board additionally approved a bid with Main Street Construction for new fences at North Ward and the Tuscola High School. The North Ward fence will be placed around the school down Prairie Street and in front of the playgrounds for the amount of $41,550. At the high school, they are planning to replace the entire exterior fence, including moving some of the gates and replacing the rolling gate in the teacher’s parking lot for $148,371.50. Superintendent Alexander noted that these costs also include the removal and disposal of previous fencing. The project is hoped to be completed by August 1, but it was noted that it may be delayed if they experience delivery issues.
In the next phase of design at the school, the board approved the authorization of superintendent Alexander to submit RFB as well as approval of a design agreement with Gray Design and WRF Engineer. It was noted that these steps will allow the board to get ahead on Phase 2 of the projects. For the RPF agreement, it will allow them to get select materials ordered to complete the project. It was noted that for the design agreement, the drawings created by Gray will be owned by the school and can be used by any contractor. Alexander stated that he had presented some ideas to them and “asked them to think outside of the box” with the cafeteria and stage area and is excited to see what they come up with.
The board also:
* Heard a thank you from Tuscola Kiwanis Club for the use of North Ward for the Easter Egg Hunt.
* Approved a $100 donation from Monicals Pizza for E.P. Fun Days.
* Approved a $250 donation from Dairy Queen for E.P. Fun Days.
* Approved a $25 donation from Tuscola Home Center for E.P. Fun Days.
* Approved the minutes from the April 25, 2022 regular meeting.
* Approved the payment of bills in the amount of $834,935.26.
* Approved the monthly Treasurers and Bookkeepers Reports.
* Approved using the second Wednesday of the month as MTSS Early Dismissal Dates.
* Approved a resolution providing for and requiring the submission of the proposition for election of board members.
* Approved a Bus Lease Agreement with Midwest Transit.
* Approved the fiscal year membership in IASB.
* 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 Hannah Church as Music Teacher.
* Approved the resignation of Ashlee Ellerbush as EP Scholastic Bowl and Student Council sponsor.
* Approved the resignation of Christy Hoel as prom sponsor.
* Approved the resignation of Darcey Voyles as prom sponsor.
* Approved the resignation of Stephen Massey as paraprofessional.
* Approved the hiring of Sarah Schoon as TCHS Ag Instructor/FFA Sponsor.
* Approved the hiring of Lyle Pettyjohn as custodian.
* Approved the summer student helper list.
* Approved the hiring of Julia Hudson as paraprofessional.
* Adjourned until the June 27 board of education meeting at 7 p.m.