MORRISON – During a regular meeting of the Morrison School Board of Education held on June 18th, members learned of plans for the first annual “Make a Difference Day” to be held on August 3rd.
Superintendent Suellen Girard explained, “With the failure of the State of Illinois to send the funding that is owed to Morrison and other School Districts in the State, the District budget has become very tight. This year, we will end with a budget deficit and next year’s appears to be similar.
“Morrison’s first priority is to maintain student programs and keep class sizes appropriate. This means that the District was forced to reduce in all other areas. One of the areas we had to reduce is our summer cleaning help. We went from 8 full time summer helpers to 3 half-time helpers. We also had to eliminate our painting crew. We still want to have our facilities look good.
“To bridge this gap,” Girard continued, “we are having a day where different groups in the community can select a project to work on and complete needed projects. Projects will be assigned in the order of the requests that are received. Individuals may also volunteer and be part of a larger group”.
For anyone who is not available on that day, and would still like to help, donations are also needed to provide lunch items to feed the volunteers, and a list of supplies that will be needed for the projects. In the afternoon, volunteers will be treated to a free pool parts as a thank you. Anyone with questions is asked to contact the school office at 815-772-2064. “The District would greatly appreciate your help” Girard added.
Approval was granted for previously held meeting minutes from: Regular meeting on May 28, Parents/staff, community discipline committee meeting of May 7th, Citizens advisory committee of May 20th, Strategic planning of May 22nd, Finance committee meeting of May 28th, and the policy committee meeting of June 13th.
Dr. Girard informed the board that state testing scores are beginning to come back, with results being lower than in the past, but, when compared to other school districts in the area, Morrison has done better in most areas. Teachers will continue working on the Common Core Curricula during the summer months. Math teachers in grades 5-12 met and identified a supplemental math computer based program designed to help students that are struggling, to catch up in math. “I have observed the program, being used by students on an iPad, and it’s impressive,” Girard said.
Plans continue by Bi-County to plan for the withdrawal from the Sterling program. Girard reported that the District has received confirmation from Standard and Poor’s that they have maintained their AA- rating. “Having a double A rating is higher than a single A rating, so this is really good news going into a possible bond sale.”
In regard to financing, General State Aide is anticipated to remain at 89%, rather than dropping to 80%, which is still unacceptable, but much better. New tables for the cafeteria have been ordered and paid for through funds raised, and will arrive in time for the next school year. The Treasurer’s office has informed the District, that tax bills would be sent out on June 26th. Work is continuing to move ahead on the ifiber project. Refinancing could result in the reduction of cost of bonds for residents next year.
Girard is continuing to meet with staff members, community members, media, and vendors to ensure that a clear message is being sent out. Lastly, Girard reported that the retirement luncheon was a success, thanking those that donated to the celebration.
Elementary Principal Joe Robbins submitted his regular report, which informed the board that parents are continuing to enroll their children for Kindergarten during the early registration process. ISAT test scores are in, and Southside had made several gains in reading and math. Committees continue to meet during the summer months to prepare for the next school year. Robbins stated that several organizations have donated money for recess and PE equipment in memory of Pam Bush. “We are going to hopefully spruce up the playgrounds at both schools with materials that Pam requested.”
Junior High Principal Darryl Hogue’s report stated that 8th grade graduation took place on May 29th, and went extremely well. Overall, the Junior High meets and exceeds preliminary ISAT testing scores in reading and math. Teachers will be meeting to analyze the testing data during the month of June, and discuss ways to improve instruction while incorporating the Common Core Standards. Twenty-two students attended 3 or 6 sessions of study during this year’s summer school program, which included two out of district students. Portions of summer school were funded by area churches, with a total of 13 scholarships being provided. The ROE also contributed $760.00. The “Feed the Children” program has been supplying lunches to summer school students Tuesday-Thursday.
Scott Vance reported on behalf of the High School reporting that student schedules for the 2013-2014 school years are being completed. The High School is in the process of developing a school wide semester grading policy. The formal process in which the Valedictorian and Salutatorian are chosen has been made to include plus and minus grades.
Vance reported that the High School has been approached by Rock Falls and Newman High Schools about joining the local B.L.I.N.D (Building Lasting Impressions that Never Die) group. BLIND is an organization that strives to motivate students to take part in their community and school to provide positive change.
Renovation has begun on the high school fitness center. Construction of the Sauk Valley Room at the high school is slated to begin any day. Dean Wallace and his staff have the room prepped and are waiting on the contractors to begin. Construction is scheduled to be completed before the end of the summer.
Discussion items included:
May enrollment report (over the month of May, there were 3 drops at the High School level. The year ended with 16 fewer students than in 2012)
Refinancing bond to reduce interest rate/Working cash bonds (Girard recommends refinancing the 2004 bond series for $2,315,000 that has an interest rate ranging from 4.1%-4.5%). The bond could be refinanced in September at a much lower interest rate, allowing the cost of the bond to lower for the remaining years, and possibly address some current and future needs.
School Board Policy Updates
The committee met to review policies on grading, class rank, bring your own technology, and educational support personnel. The changes will be adopted at the July meeting.
Facility Use Annual Report
Review of the facility use policy to determine if the board would like to make changes.
Food Service Annual cost analysis
Review of the food service program financial outcome report to determine if changes in the meal charges or program need to be made.
Extra Curricular Activity Annual Cost break-down
Review of program cost. Continue to monitor.
School Board Governance Recognition Requirements
To earn an Award of Recognition from the School Board association, the Board must meet certain criteria. Currently, Morrison does not meet the criteria. Board members must decide if they would like to pursue making the needed changes.
Summer Work Projects
Work completion on recommended jobs will be dependent on receiving the maintenance grant that has been applied for.
Enrollment in B.L.I.N.D program
Building Lasting Impressions that Never Die, a multi-school organization formed after the Columbine tragedy over 12 years ago. The purpose of the organization is to create lasting friendships with other schools and help tear down racism, bullying, hatred, and other issues that plague youth today. Students would raise the funds to support participation through student council. No District generated revenue would be used to support this program.
At the next meeting on July 10th, there will be action to move the July 30th meeting to August 12th, due to lack of quorum.