Eastland Holds Public Hearing on Waiver of School Code, Budget Hearing, and Regular Board Meeting
The Eastland Board of Education held two public hearings, and their Regular Board of Education Meeting on Wednesday, August 21. The first hearing was a request for a Waiver of the Illinois School Code laws pertaining to limits in increases in administrative expenditures.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Hansen explained that the Budget Template required by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) does not account for the district’s transition from three to two attendance centers. Consequently, the 2013-14 budget template shows an increase in excess of the 5% statutory limit for administrative cost increases even though the actual increase is 1%.
While the school attorney advised that a hearing would not be necessary, the school’s auditing firm and ISBE advised that a hearing be held for a 1-year exemption based on circumstances beyond the district’s control. No members from the staff or the public addressed the Board on the Waiver application, and the hearing adjourned.
The Board then held a public hearing on the 2013-14 school district budget. As required by law, a tentative budget was approved in July for a 30-day posting period. Dr. Hansen explained that the budget deficit in the Education Fund is projected to be -$152,000.00, but that overall budget deficit is projected to be -$86,000.00. The budget shows that the Board has reduced expenditures in the Ed Fund by $562,000 over the last two years. Unfortunately, it shows that revenues have declined by $951,600 over the same two years. This reduction in revenue is the result of a 25% reduction in the assessed value of property in Lake Carroll/Freedom Township. Hansen explained that the County Assessor has projected that assessments in Lake Carroll will be reduced further for the 2014-15 school year, but that the reduction will be smaller.
Nevertheless, if the preliminary numbers from the Assessor hold, he estimates that District will lose another $160,000 in revenue from tax receipts. No members from the staff or the public addressed the Board about the budget.
Regular Board meeting
President Woessner called the Regular Meeting to order at 6:50 p.m. As first items of business, the Board approved bills and claims for the month, the July and August Special Meeting Minutes, the Treasurer’s Report, and a resolution authorizing President Woessner to sign off on the real estate contract and legal documents necessary to complete closing on the sale of the Eastland Elementary building in Lanark.
In Board Input, Superintendent Hansen shared a possible schedule for Board Committee meetings and tasks, information on a meeting to be held in West Carroll on September 4th regarding the 1% sales tax, a brochure on the Fall Dinner Meeting of the Illinois Association of School Boards at Lake Carroll on September 19, and a summary of new legislation requiring schools to carry catastrophic accident insurance on student-athletes in grades 9-12. No visitors requested to address the Board.
In Communications, Superintendent Hansen thanked Bryan Edler of Bryan’s Repair in Shannon for allowing the District to stage three buses on his property while the Board seeks bids for improvements to the bus garage in Shannon. He also shared that ISBE denied the district’s application for $50,000 in School Maintenance Grants. Hansen said that most applications from districts in the region were denied.
The Board approved the Application for Waiver of State Board of Education Rules. They also approved and adopted the budget for 2013-14. Dr. Hansen presented information on bids received for surplus school equipment, and the Board took the following actions:
Approved and accepted the bids from WACC, $1,000.00 for the Commercial Steam Dishwasher; from WACC, $200.00 for the Commercial Food Prep Island; from Chadwick-Milledgeville, $150.00 for three (3) smartboards (boards only; no projectors included); from Chadwick-Milledgeville, $1,221.00 for eleven (11) portable cafeteria tables.
Rejected the following bids from Rock Falls Elementary, $10.00 for one hundred (100) student desks; from Rock Falls Elementary, $5.00 for one (1) steel Office Cabinet.
Declared as surplus, and approved donation of one (1) three-compartment sink to the Whiteside Area Career Center for use in their Commercial Kitchen. Declared as surplus, and approved for re-cycling, one (1) Ricoh copy machine (inoperable).
Continuing, the administrators spoke briefly on summary reports on the 5essentials Surveys completed last spring. The surveys of staff, parents and students were developed by the University of Chicago for the Illinois State Board of Education. Designed to measure five (5) factors known to be indicators of school climate, the plan is to include reports on the 5essentials on the school report cards published each year.
Dr. Hansen explained that some errors in questions and the norming of the data need to be addressed, and that the Illinois Association of School Administrators has petitioned the state board to release the results without normed ratings until the surveys have been administered for several years. The State Board is considering the request. More information on Eastland’s 5essentials survey results will be published this fall.
The Board approved the Risk Management Plan for 2013-14. The plan was presented for a first reading at the July 17th Board meeting, and the school attorney reviewed and approved the plan as being compliant with statute.
President Woessner reported briefly on the status of the sale of the Eastland Elementary Building to Weston Burkholder.
Principal Burkholder reported on the recommendations of the committee to consider Pearl City High School’s requests to co-op in baseball, girls’ golf, and track and field. The Committee recommended that the Board not co-op in baseball or girls’ golf at this time. Their rationale included that the programs are currently viable with sufficient numbers to support teams. They also shared future projections which suggest that the programs will remain viable into the future.
As for track and field, the Committee recommended that Pearl City be directed to contact Chadwick-Milledgeville as they are the host school for the Track Co-op. The Board approved the recommendations of the Committee and directed Superintendent Hansen to communicate with Pearl City.
The Board approved renewal of the District’s dental and voluntary vision insurance with Delta Dental, and life insurance with Prudential. There was no increase in the dental or vision premiums, and the life insurance premiums are 17% lower than last year.
The Board discussed possible uses of the district-owned farmland east of Lanark. The land is currently used by the Ag/FFA program, with proceeds from the profits and some donations of labor and supplies going directly to the Ag/FFA Activity Account. At one time, profits from farmland were shared between the Ag/FFA program and the District. That has not been the case for over nine years.
In addition, the District has received informal inquiries regarding the possible sale of the land. There was agreement between the members that the land should not be sold. In addition, given demands on the District budget and reductions in revenues available for district programs, the members agreed that a profit-sharing arrangement should be re-established. Dr. Hansen and President Woessner will meet with Cindy Feltmeyer, the Ag teacher/FFA Advisor, to formalize an arrangement.
As a final item in New Business, Dr. Hansen shared a proposal for improvements to the bus garage in Shannon. He explained that the addition of extended mirrors on the buses has made it impossible to store all buses in the Lanark garage, and that the garage in Shannon is no longer long enough to house a full-sized bus.
If the garage was lengthened and openings widened, the District could store two (2) full-sized, and one (1) mini-bus in Shannon. This would also leave a fourth bay available for needed district storage.
A preliminary estimate for the cost of the work was about $34,000.00. Dr. Hansen explained that the District would save about $3,800 per year as a result of reduced miles to serve the Shannon routes, not including calculations of savings that might be realized as a result of driving buses longer, and keeping all buses housed during the winter months. The Board directed the superintendent to solicit bids for consideration at the October Board meeting.
The Board went into closed session at 8:15 p.m. to discuss the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees of the District or legal counsel for the District, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee or against legal counsel for the District to determine its validity, and school security measures.
After closed session, the Board approved the minutes, and the following personnel actions:
1. Approved the request for unpaid maternity leave for Erin Lower for eight (8) weeks from February – Spring Break, 2014.
2. Approved posting a maternity leave vacancy for a 5th Grade teacher for eight (8) weeks from February – Spring Break, 2014.
3. Approved the resignation of Sheila Wyeth as Kitchen Assistant at Eastland Jr/Sr High School for the 2013-14 school year.
4. Approved call-back of a staff member previously reduced in force Amy Dobish and re-assigned to position as Kitchen Assistant at Eastland Jr/Sr High School for the 2013-14 school year.
5. Approved the hire of Kyle Todd as 7th Grade Girls’ Basketball Coach for 2013-14.
6. Approved the hire of Mike York as 7th Grade Football Coach for 2013-14.
7. Approved posting a vacancy for a Freshman Volleyball Coach for the remainder 2013 season.
8. Approved posting a vacancy for an after-school tutor for the remainder 2013 school year.