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Villa Grove School solar leasing agreement was turned down

By Gabriella Agius

During the Villa Grove Board of Education meeting on May 15, the Board was met with updates regarding the solar project.

QFB Energy notified members that the leasing agreement that was proposed was turned down by the bank. The Board will need to be updated on different options for claiming the tax credit.

QFB Energy is waiting for guidance from the Department of Treasury on how to proceed with direct payment for solar for nonprofits. The solar project interconnection agreement and leasing agreement are still in progress, so the district isn’t committed to anything at this time.

The Board is still interested in solar, but the project will be on pause while things are being looked at.

The Board was visited by faculty about concerns with cell phone usage at school. Callie Parr spoke on the amount of unconsented posting of fellow students, faculty, and staff. The usage has become unmanageable and has caused disruption in the classroom. Confiscation often results in “tantrums and rages, even in high school students.”

Bryan Murawski was next to speak on phone usage, providing examples of disruptions. One student brought their phone into the ACT exam, resulting in their removal and their test being invalidated. Another student utilized their smartwatch during a final exam, looking at a study guide and cheating.

The Board has not approved changes to the handbook yet, but will vote at a later meeting.

Proposed changes to the cell phone usage policies are as follows: cellular devices need to be off and in the student’s locker from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. The only exception to this is lunchtime, when high school students are allowed to have their phones. Upon the fourth offense to this policy, the student will have to turn their phone in at the office every morning.

Other changes include the combination of elementary, junior high, and high school handbooks. This will create a district handbook. Inserts will be added to differentiate between elementary and junior high/high school.

Principal Jones also proposed an updated GPA scale. This will make class ranking more equitable. Weighted classes will now be worth six points, unweighted will be worth four points, and general classes will be worth five points. This will remain on a five-point scale.

Other changes are to be made to the handbook but will be addressed and approved at a later meeting.

The Board approved the amended budget for the fiscal year ending June 20, 2023, liability insurance package renewal, and superintendent contract renewal.

The Board also approved giving authority to Superintendent Munson to proceed with upgrades to the baseball field. Plans include utilizing a poured concrete wall with pads and netting surrounding the area. Paul’s Machinery will donate a crane and labor to assist with the project. One month of revenue from the 1 percent sales tax will cover expenses from this project. The Board is projecting that the softball field will be done next summer.

For the Elementary report, Principal Beck announced that all students that participated in Special Olympics qualified for state. The Blue Devil Classic will take place on May 18, as well as “Smart Family Night,” which provides financial literacy for students. This is sponsored by Indiana State University. Summer tutoring will be from June 5 through July 29, with a week off for July 4.

Principal Jones reported that the High School band and choir concert was outstanding, as well as the art showcase and Honors Banquet. $52,392 were given in scholarships. FFA had a successful banquet and both the Junior High Track and ACES team were congratulated for their performance at state.

Principal Jones asked everyone to keep the Olson family in their prayers as Becky Olson passed away on May 12.

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