During a relatively brief meeting Monday night, members of the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education voted to increase payment to substitute teachers to be more competitive with other school districts in the area, and voted to make the tentative 2022-23 district budget available for public review, but tabled a measure to buy computer software to monitor and manage building maintenance activities.
On a motion by board member Amanda Ross, seconded by President Mark Hayes, the board accepted Supt. Shane Owsley’s recommendation to raise substitute teacher wages from $95 per day to $120 per day. Owsley said the increase will make the district more competitive with other school districts, noting surrounding districts pay substitutes $130 to $150 per day.
The board also voted unanimously to place the tentative 2022-23 budget on file for public review. Owsley said the Illinois State Board of Education recently changed the format in which the budget must be submitted to the state. In order to meet deadlines for public review and final approval, Owsley said he put the budget information into a spreadsheet format that actually is more detailed than the ISBE requires.
According to Owsley, the new budget is similar to last year’s budget, which included an influx of money in the form of COVID-19 relief grants. Like other school districts, CUSD 7 received two rounds of COVID-19 grant money last year. While that money is not expected this year, a third round of COVID-19 related grants is expected to bring revenue for the year to approximately the same level as a year ago.
Owsley will present a detailed review of the budget during a state-mandated public hearing prior to the board’s regular monthly meeting in September. Formal approval of the budget is anticipated that night, after which it will be submitted to the ISBE.
The board also approved an Employee Information System report listing salaries and benefits for all district teachers and administrators which must be filed with ISBE annually. The EIS Administrator and Teacher Salary/Benefits Report also will be posted to the district’s website.
Following a brief discussion, the board postponed until September a decision on whether or not to buy software designed to assist in managing maintenance activities. During a meeting of the Building and Grounds Committee earlier this month, Maintenance Director Brian Page discussed and recommended that the board purchase Brightly Maintenance software to help manage maintenance activities. The annual fee for the software is $5,900, plus a $4,850 set-up fee.
During the discussion Monday night, Owsley told the board Page had recommended adding QR codes to district equipment such as lawn mowers that can be scanned to ensure the equipment is subject to a regular maintenance schedule. The software also can be used to assign maintenance tasks and monitor when they are completed.
“It keeps things organized,” said Page, who attended Monday night’s meeting. The software even tells workers what tools are needed for a specific job before the employee starts “so you don’t go up on the roof and find out that you have to go back down for a tool.” Additionally, the software predicts the life expectancy of various pieces of equipment so the district isn’t taken by surprise when a piece of equipment needs to be replaced.
Board member Weye Schmidt noted the company sells three different levels of software and questioned whether or not steps were taken to ensure the district was buying the level it really needs. From documents provided to the board, Schmidt said it appeared the district would be buying the highest level but he said he wanted to be sure before voting to approve the purchase.
“Were there other programs that we considered?” Dennis Tiburzi asked.
Page replied that he investigated one other software provider, but their program did not seem to be as intuitive or comprehensive as the Brightly product. “That one, I believe, was more cost prohibitive, as I recall,” Owsley added.
“I’d like to know for sure what we’re getting before I would vote,” Tiburzi said.
With at least two board members expressing reticence, Owsley suggested tabling the measure until more information could be collected and provided to the board.
In the area of personnel, the board accepted the resignation of Wade Hendricks as district custodian and posted the position as vacant. Hendricks will remain a presence in the school, however. Last week, the Gillespie City Council hired Hendricks as the School Resource Officer to provide a daily police presence on campus.
Board members also voted to post a vacancy for a district counselor’s position. Prior to that action, President Hayes asked members to observe a moment of silence in memory of Beth Ruyle, who was employed as a district counselor at the time of her death on Sunday, July 31, at the age of 44. A resident of Bunker Hill, Ruyle died at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis.
Board members voted unanimously to approve a state-required Reopening Plan for the current academic year. The document describes protocols for dealing with the ongoing presence of COVID-19 for the school year. The plan includes an infamous on encouraging frequent hand washing, more stringent efforts of sanitizing of school and transportation facilities, and protocols for temporarily removing from school facilities students or staff who test positive for COVID or exhibit symptoms of infection.
The board also approved formal job descriptions for the Technology Director and Assistant Technology Director.