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CUSD 7 board approves $20 million budget

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2023-2024 budget

Members of the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education on Monday night approved a $20 million budget for the current fiscal year as Supt. Shane Owsley cautioned that next year’s budget is likely to be leaner due to the loss of COVID-related emergency funding from the federal government.

The board also approved a $108,000 HVAC project, reviewed current enrollment numbers, and enacted a new board policy regarding tuition waivers for children of employees who live outside the district.

Approval of the budget followed a 20-minute public hearing during which Supt. Owsley explained expected revenue and anticipated expenditures for the fiscal year that began July 1.

The newly approved budget projects revenue at $20,699,586, compared with about $18.5 million budgeted last year. The lion’s share revenue—$10,580,420— is expected to come from the state government in the form of Evidence-Based Funding and grants. Local sources, including real estate taxes and the Macoupin County School Facilities sales tax, is expected to comprise $4,691,802, while $3,772,526 is expected to come from federal sources.

It is the federal funding that school officials are eyeing for the next fiscal year. An estimated $2.6 million of this year’s federal funding is expected to come from Elementary and Secondary School Recovery funds—the so-called ESSR money appropriated by the federal government to help schools recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. That funding source will not be available next fiscal year, meaning the amount of federal funds the district receives may be two-thirds less than this year.

“This year is a much rosier picture than next year is likely to be,” Owsley said. “ESSR money will be gone and our federal funding will be drastically reduced.” Some of the ESSR money, he said, was used to pay salaries and benefits for specific district employees; those obligations will have to be shouldered by the school district, using funds from other sources a year from now. Owsley predicted the district may have to draw down on surplus money that has accumulated in various funds over the last three years, in part as a result of the injection of federal COVID recovery funds.

Owsley said he also has concerns about state aid payments next fiscal year, which may not be as lush as the district has come to expect. CUSD 7 currently is listed as a Tier I school, meaning the state considers it most in need of additional funding to reach optimum per student spending for instruction. The district is on the cusp, however of being elevated to Tier II, which could limit the amount of additional funding the school receives next fiscal year.

“We won’t get less,” Owsley said of Evidence Based Funding, “but we would go up by as much as we did this year.”

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Enrollment, which also factors into the state aid formula, is down from pre-COVID levels, Owsley noted. “That’s not just a Gillespie thing,” Owsley said, “it is a Macoupin County thing; all of the school districts are down.”

Board member Weye Schmidt noted that accounting for the loss of ESSR money and the one-time influx of money from a recent bond sale, the new budget is “about break even.”

“That’s right,” Owsley agreed.

The budget projects expenditures at a total of $19,532,378, which would result in a surplus of $1,167,188. Coupled with existing fund balances, the district would end the fiscal year with $12,796,604 in reserve.

The Education Fund accounts for more than half the budget on both the revenue and expenditure sides. The budget anticipates $13,884,603 in revenue for education. More than half that amount—$9,494,836—is expected to come in the form of state aid. Federal funding, including ESSR money, is projected at $2,261,321, while local sources will contribute $2,088,446.

Expenditures from the Education Fund is projected at $13,771,878, which includes $100,000 for contingencies.

Revenue for the Building, Operations and Maintenance Fund is projected at $2,104,758, including $1.4 million in ESSR funding that will disappear next year. Expenditures are projected at $2,033,790, including $100,000 for contingencies. The fund should end the year $70,968 in the black, or up to $170,968 if the contingency money is not used.

A total of $2,054,818 in revenue is expected for Capital Projects, but that figure is skewed by the injection of $1.6 million resulting from an alternate revenue bond issue approved by the board earlier this year. The expected $780,000 in expenditures is based upon preliminary estimates for improvements to the high school baseball and softball fields. In addition, $25,000 will be transferred to Debt Service to shore up a deficiency in that fund.

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The Transportation Fund is expected to take in revenue in the amount of $924,329, including $71,915 in ESSR money that is being used currently to cover the cost of salary and benefits for the Transportation Director. Expenditures of $861,359 are anticipated, including $187,272 for debit service on the purchase of three new buses, plus $674,087 for salaries and supplies.

2023-2024 estimated revenue

Revenue for the Debt Service Fund is projected at $867,475, with expenditures of $1,171,847—making it one of two funds expected to end the year in the red. Expenditures also exceed revenue in the Tort Fund, which expects to take in $282,206 and spend $453,750.

Revenue for the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and Social Security is projected at $522,786, with anticipated expenditures of $459,754. Revenue for Working Cash is anticipated to be $98,591, with no expenditures.

Based on the newly approved budget, the district will end the fiscal year total fund balances of $12,796,604. With a beginning balance of $5,946,929, the Education Fund is expected to end the year with $6,019,672 in reserve. Other funds are expected to end the year with balances as follows: Building, Operations and Maintenance, $753,319; Debt Service, $350,923; Transportation, $422,868; IMRF/SS, $422,226; Capital Projects, $1,838,139; Working Cash, $2,765,597; and Tort, $223,860.

Owsley reiterated that the budget is a spending plan that is subject to change as conditions change throughout the year. The approved budget, for example, does not include money from a State Safety Grant that has not been awarded. Owsley said he intends to apply for as many grants as possible as they become available throughout the year. Accordingly, he said, the board will likely be called upon to approve an amended budget next June as the fiscal year winds down.

WEIGHT ROOM HVAC PROJECT

On Owsley’s recommendation, the board approved a project to install rooftop air conditioning units to serve the high school weight room at an estimated cost of $107,935. The estimated cost includes replacing two air conditioning units that were vandalized while on the ground awaiting installation.

Owsley said the plan was to take units taken off the high school roof as part of an HVAC upgrade and put them into service for the weight room. While the units were on the ground, however, someone stripped them of copper.

Insurance will cover $12,000 of the $22,000 replacement costs.

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TEACHER VACANCY GRANT

The board approved a memorandum of understanding regarding a state Teacher Vacancy Grant, which will allow the board to use state grant money to reimburse teachers who acquire additional certification to teach courses for which there is a “high need.”

Owsley said two teachers who acquired special education certification are eligible for reimbursement at this time.

“Our contract already provides for $3,200,” Owsley said. “This would be above and beyond that.”

The state has earmarked up to $100,000 to reimburse the district for eligible costs under terms of the grant.

Under terms of the program, teachers who receive the reimbursement must remain in the district a minimum of three years. If they leave before three years, the recipients are required to pay back a pro-rated portion of what they received.

TUITION WAIVERS

Board members voted unanimously to adopt as board policy provisions set out in Public Act 103-0111 which allows school districts to waive tuition for the children of certificated and non-certificated employees who reside outside the district. Public Act 103-0111 allows school districts to waive tuition upon a formal vote of the board. By adopting provisions of the act as board policy, the tuition waiver becomes automatic without requiring the board to consider waivers on a case-by-case basis.

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2023-2024 expenditures

Additionally, by adopting the provision as board policy precludes amending the district’s contract with the teachers union, meaning the perk could be revoked by a board vote in the future without violating the contract.

SIXTH DAY ENROLLMENT NUMBERS

Supt. Owsley shared with the board enrollment totals from the sixth day of classes for the 2023-24 school year, which show total enrollment grew by four students from last year but remains far below pre-COVID numbers.

Enrollment at BenGil Elementary School is 520 for this year, compared with 523 last year and a nine-year average of 598. Gillespie Middle School’s current enrollment is 265, compared with 245 last year and a nine-year average of 283. Gillespie High School has 333 students this year, compared with 346 last year and a nine-year average of 362.

“I don’t think this is a surprise,” Owsley said. “When you look at when enrollment started to drop, it was during COVID.”

For the 2018-19 school year, before the COVID pandemic, the district’s total enrollment was at 1312.

The number of students enrolled has an impact on the amount of state aid a district receives.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get more students enrolled here,” Owsley said.

PERSONNEL

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Following a 45-minute executive session, the board voted unanimously to appoint Jarrod Herron as the Gillespie Middle School Scholar Bowl sponsor and hire Nikki Hunter as a substitute bus driver, pending a routine background check.

As part of a District Focus segment, GMS Principal Patrick McGinty introduced the board to Brad Taulbee, newly hired band instructor for the district. Board member Bill Carter encouraged Taulbee to contact the board with “whatever you need to our band going and growing.”

In addition to traditional marching band instruction, Taulbee said he expects to introduce programs for jazz and rock.

“I think kids will respond very well because it’s much closer to their culture,” he said.

A second new teacher, Ken Bates, was not available to attend. Bates is teaching business at both the middle school and high school levels.

OTHER ACTION

In other action, the board:

  • Voted unanimously to apply for a $50,000 state matching grant for facility maintenance. Last year, the district used ESSR funds to match the grant award.
  • Accepted a bid of $814 from Michael and Jane Roth to purchase a real estate lot previously declared as surplus property.

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Community News

School board deals with personnel issues during special meeting

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Stephanie Bray

Meeting in special session Monday night, members of the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education accepted “with regrets” the resignation for purposes of retirement of Stephanie Bray, one of the district’s three technology integration specialists, effective June 4.

The board called a special session to deal with the apparently unexpected resignation before the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting later this month. However, board members tabled action on approving a revised job description for the Student Information System/Data Integration Specialist position, pending further discussion.

The board also tabled action on posting the newly created vacancy and tabled posting a district-level secretary’s position.

In February of 2022, the board accepted “with regrets” Bray’s announcement of her retirement “no later than the end of the 2025-26 school year.” There was no indication of why Bray moved her retirement date up by two years.

On a motion by Weye Schmidt, seconded by Amanda Ross, the board voted unanimously to accept Bray’s resignation. The action followed a 50-minute executive session to discuss personnel issues behind closed doors. The public portion of the meeting lasted less than 10 minutes.

In other action, the board voted to renew the district’s One Room contract to offer a remotely taught Spanish class to fulfill the district’s foreign language requirement for the 2024-25 school year. This will be the second year an off-site teacher will teach foreign language at GHS, using remote communication technology. Supt. Shane Owsley said the district had no applications for the vacant teaching position last year. This year, an applicant from Brazil explored the possibility of teaching in Gillespie but ultimately accepted a tutoring position at Greenville University. Owsley said hiring the applicant could have become cumbersome because she was not yet certificated to teach high school Spanish. He said he recently changed the job description from Spanish to foreign language to expand the pool of potential applicants.

In other personnel action, the board approved the maternity leave request of Amber Allan, BenGil Elementary physical education teacher, effective Aug. 28 through Jan. 20.

In separate actions, the board accepted Nathan Henrichs resignation as Gillespie High School freshman football coach, posted the position as vacant, and appointed Henrichs as a varsity assistant football coach. The board also voted unanimously to appoint Alex Jasper as an assistant freshman football coach. The board unanimously accepted Wayne Ireland’s resignation as a volunteer assistant football coach, and voted unanimously to appoint Jarrod Herron and hire Trenton Cleveland as volunteer assistant football coaches.

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The board voted unanimously to hire Michael Rodriguez as a high school volunteer assistant women’s basketball coach.

On a motion by Schmidt, seconded by Kelli Vesper, the board hired Alexis Ollis as a head cook and kitchen staff member, pending documentation of certification and a background check. The board also Brittany Hughes as a district kitchen staff worker, pending documentation of certification and background check.

On a motion by Vesper, the board voted unanimously to post a vacancy for a one-on-one paraprofessional aide.

Board members voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Jessica Kelly as a middle school assistant track and field coach and voted unanimously to hire Jay Weber as the high school head track and field coach.

The regular monthly meeting of the board is set for 6 p.m., Monday, June 24, at the district’s administrative office.

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CUSD 7 News

School board names new head football coach

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Members of the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education on Monday night voted unanimously to appoint Cory Bonstead as the Gillespie High School head football coach for the 2024-25 school year, replacing Dalton Barnes, whose resignation was accepted last month. In other action, the board voted to dismiss Assistant Varsity Football Coach Donnie Allen, and to not renew Allen’s appointment as the high school track and field coach.

The actions bring to an end several weeks of controversy related to the former head coach and assistant coach. Barnes resigned last month as both a high school physical education and social studies teacher as well as the head football coach after parents alleged he and Allen engaged in verbal and physical abuse of student-athletes. An online petition garnering more than 630 electronic signatures accused Barnes and Allen of “child abuse,” citing alleged “verbal abuse, physical abuse, influencing and coercing student-athletes to act against other student-athletes that have spoken out against the abuse, and attempting to limit the First Amendment rights of student-athletes with threats and manipulation.”

While Barnes submitted his resignation, Allen did not step down, precipitating Monday night’s actions to sever him from the district.

Bonstead was hired in July 2022 as a high school resource teacher. He has served as an assistant football coach for the past two years. Before coming to the school district, he was an assistant football coach for Galesburg’s Knox College, where he earned his degree. As a formality, the board also officially accepted Bonstead’s formal resignation as assistant freshman football coach and posted a vacancy for that position.

The actions to hire a new head coach and dismiss the assistant coach took place following a one-hour executive session to discuss personnel issues and other concerns. Upon returning to open session, the board voted unanimously to rehire a roster of certified staff members discussed in executive session.

The board accepted “with regret” the resignation for purposes of retirement of long-serving district custodian Jerry Balzraine, effective May 31, 2025.

Custodian Neil Balzraine, representing non-certificated employees, read a statement thanking Supt. Shane Owsley, Board President Mark Hayes and other board members for coming to an agreement with the union for a new contract covering non-certificated employees.

“Through night and weekends, we worked hard and got a lot done,” Balzraine said. “These meetings were most professional, cordial and productive.”

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Later in the meeting, the board voted unanimously to accept the new contract, which reportedly was ratified by union members Monday morning.

In other personnel action, the board reappointed winter coaches, including Casey Sholtis as GHS head boy’s basketball coach, Jake Kellebrew as assistant high school boy’s basketball coach, Anthony Kravanya as an unpaid volunteer assistant boy’s basketball coach, Jarrod Herron as scholar bowl coach for high school as well as seventh and eighth grade, Andrea Williamson as high school dance coach, Elizabeth Thackery as seventh-grade volleyball coach, and Celia Jubelt as eighth-grade volleyball coach.

Board members unanimously voted to accept the resignation of middle school paraprofessional James Bryant and to post a vacancy for the position. The board also approved a maternity leave request for BenGil Elementary School paraprofessional Kristin Schoen.

The board voted unanimously in separate actions to accept the resignation of Celia Jubelt as head high school women’s volleyball coach and post a vacancy for the position, and to appoint Matt Brawner as a GHS assistant women’s basketball coach.

Also in separate actions, the board voted to post job openings for a district head cook and a district kitchen employee. Board member Amanda Ross who moved to approve both actions pointed out the openings represent existing positions. “I want to be clear that we are not creating new positions,” she said.

SAFETY PROJECTS

On a motion by Peyton Bernot, seconded by Ross, the board green-lit three safety projects to be funded with proceeds of a COPS Federal Safety Grant.

PASS Security of Fairview Heights was the sole bidder for adding door access security for entry to the middle school/high school complex at a cost of $81,210.

Barcom Security with base offices in Springfield, Swansea and St. Louis, submitted the sole bid of $113,000 for an updated fire alarm system for the middle school/high school complex.

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Commercial Telephone Systems, Collinsville, also the sole bidder, will install an updated intercom system at the middle school at a cost of $62,769.

“The companies we hoped would submit bids did submit bids and the prices were what we expected,” Supt. Owsley told the board. The contracts call for the work to be completed by two days before the start of the 2024-25 school year.

FISCAL 2024 BUDGET

The board voted to place on file for public review an amended budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Owsley advised that some numbers in the tentative amended budget are likely to change for the board’s final approval next month. State law requires a 30-day review period, however, even though some data to be reflected in the budget is still being collected.

“I can tell this will change,” Owsley said. “I will have final numbers and a presentation for the board in June.”

Last month, the board directed Owsley to begin work on a tentative fiscal 2025 budget authorized operational expenditures for the period between July 1 and whenever the new budget is approved. Typically, the district finalizes a budget for the current fiscal year in September.

SURPLUS PROPERTY

Upon Owsley’s recommendation, the board declared two buses and one truck as surplus property. The three vehicles will be advertised for sale to the highest qualified bidders.

OTHER ACTION

In other words action, the board:

  • Approved a high school course description book for the 2024-25 school year. GHS Principal Jill Rosentreter said there are no major changes from the course description document the district used last year.
  • Approved a revised school calendar. Supt. Owsley said the only change is setting 12:45 p.m. as the dismissal time on days that have early dismissal. Previously, early dismissal times were staggered at 12:30 and 1 p.m. The change is precipitated by the district’s decision to start the school day as the same time for all three attendance centers.
  • Approved a district-wide job description list.
  • Approved a corrected school fees schedule. Owsley said the action was needed because the schedule approved last month was inaccurate due to a computer error resulting from merging fee schedules from the district’s three attendance centers.

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School board approves elementary school principal’s retirement, accepts resignation of high school teacher/coach

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FFA members headed to state competitions next month. Kayla Wills is at right, back row.

Long-serving BenGil Elementary School principal will retire in two years following the Community Unit School District 7’s Board of Education’s approval during Tuesday night’s regular monthly meeting of the board. On a motion by Kellie Vesper, seconded by Amanda Ross, the board voted unanimously to accept “with regret” the retirement of Elementary Principal Angela Sandretto, effective at the end of the 2026-27 school year.

At the time of her retirement, Sandretto will have been a district employee for 31 years, including 21 years as an administrator. Sandretto’s tenure predates the construction and collapse due to mine subsidence of the former Benld Elementary School. She started her career when the old Benld High School served as the district’s elementary school. She was principal when the new Benld school was built and when the seven-year-old building was destroyed by mine subsidence in 2009. She continued to serve as principal during the transition from the damaged school to the new BenGil Elementary School in Gillespie.

In other action, the board accepted without comment the resignation of Dalton Barnes as a physical education/social studies teacher, and as Gillespie High School head football coach. The resignation, accepted unanimously, appears to be related to recent controversy over alleged abusive behavior toward students.

Gillespie Police Chief Jared DePoppe and School Resource Officer Wayne Hendricks both attended the meeting, and left soon after the board completed actions related to personnel. Supt. Shane Owsley told the BenGil Post the police presence was a precaution due to concerns that “accusations and rumors on social media could spill over” into Tuesday’s meeting. An attorney from the law firm representing the school district accompanied the board into a one-hour executive session early in the evening to discuss personnel issues and other items.

Elementary Principal Angela Sandretto will retire at the end of the 2026-27 school year.

Accusations on social media in recent weeks alleged Barnes and an assistant coach engaged in verbal and physical abuse of students. With a goal of 1,000 signers, an online petition urging the termination of employment for Barnes and the assistant coach has garnered 639 electronic signatures. The petition accuses the two men of “child abuse,” citing alleged “verbal abuse, physical abuse, influencing and coercing student athletes to act against other student athletes that have spoken out against the abuse, and attempting to limit the First Amendment rights of student athletes with threats and manipulation.” The petition alleges there have been numerous instances of abuse and that the abuse has been allowed to continue despite “multiple red flags and complaints.”

No members of the public appeared before the board to address the complaints. Several teachers and teachers union officials attended the meeting but, likewise, made no public comments.

ADDITIONAL PERSONNEL ISSUES

In other personnel action, the board:

  • Voted unanimously to accept “with regret” the resignation for purposes of retirement of GHS/GMS guidance counselor Jill Strole at the conclusion of the current school year, and to post the position as vacant.
  • Hired Aubrey Morgan as a first-year, non-tenured teacher tentatively assigned as the BenGil Elementary School music teacher for the 2024-25 school year, pending verification of certification requirements and a background check. Morgan is expected to receive her bachelor’s degree in music education this spring from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.
  • Voted to appoint Nikki Brawner as the GHS head women’s basketball coach for the 2024-25 school year. Additionally, the board accepted Brawner’s resignation as an assistant GHS women’s basketball coach and posted that position as vacant.
  • Voted, in separate actions, to hire Alex Jasper and James Bryant as GMS paraprofessionals, pending verification of certification requirements and a background check. Additionally, the board voted to appoint Bryant as the GMS eighth-grade boys basketball coach for the 2024-25 school year.
  • Voted to employ Alexis Lupkey as GHS head cheerleading coach for the 2024-25 school year.
  • Voted, in separate actions, to hire Nikki Hunter and Rebecca Leitschuh-Birdsell as full-route bus drivers for the 2024-25 school year, pending verification of certification and background checks.

On a motion by Ross, seconded by Peyton Bernot, the board voted to employ Jennifer Parker, Nancy Schmidt, Amy Price, Marci Johnson, Karissa Smith and Vanessa Barrett as teachers for the 2024 elementary school summer school program.

In separate actions, the board hired Shanna Connor as a math teacher, Casey Edgerton as a science teacher, and Jessica Kelly as an English/language arts teacher for the Gillespie Middle School summer school program.

The board hired Ashlee Gibbs as a high school summer school math teacher, contingent upon student enrollment, and hired Jennifer Brown as the high school summer school driver’s education teacher. Penny Feeley and Janice Hammann were hired unanimously as summer school food service workers.

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SAFETY GRANT PROJECTS

The board accepted without comment the resignation of Dalton Barnes as a physical education/social studies teacher, and as Gillespie High School head football coach.

The board authorized Supt. Owsley to seek bids for several capital improvement projects related to student safety for which plans are still being developed. In January, Owsley reported to the board the district was successful in its application for a $466,365 state-funded Safety Grant. Matching the grant money with $155,000 in local funds, gave the district more than $600,000 in funding for capital improvements related to safety.

Owsley said architects are continuing to develop plans and bidding specifications for several projects, including installation of a new fire alarm system, installation of a new intercom system, installation of bullet-proof glass in the office area, and application of a bullet-resistant film on exterior windows. The Superintendent said he would advertise for bids as specifications become available.

FISCAL 2025 BUDGET

On a motion by Weye Schmidt, seconded by Bill Carter, the board voted to direct Supt. Owsley to prepare a tentative budget for fiscal year 2025, which will run from July 1 this year through June 30, 2025. The new budget typically is presented to the board in August with final approval coming in September.

In a related action, the board approved expenditures from fiscal 2025 funds to cover operating costs from July 1, when the new fiscal year begins, until the new budget is adopted.

Though not a given, the board could amend the fiscal 2024 budget in June in the event actual revenue and expenditures for the current fiscal year differ significantly from projections made in the budget approved last summer.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT

Board members approved an intergovernmental agreement between CUSD 7 and Lewis and Clark Community College to offer dual credit courses at Gillespie High School. Under the agreement, Gillespie students can take college-level courses that will count as credit toward an LCCC associate’s degree. Teachers offering dual credit courses at GHS must hold a master’s degree and offer a curriculum approved by the college.

DISTRICT FOCUS

In a District Focus segment, the board was introduced to several High School FFA members who have excelled this year in competitions.

“These kids are doing some amazing things,” said High School Principal Jill Rosentreter. “They are going to competitions and bringing home trophies right and left.”

Payton Bertolis reading a statement thanking the board, adminstration, Wills and FFA members for the opportunity to participate in FFA and FFA competitions.

FFA sponsor Kayla Wills said she has led the program for six years. “This is the most outstanding group we’ve had since I’ve been here,” she said.

Wills introduced two teams––the Parliamentary Procedure team and the Ag Mechanics team––that have ascended to state competition set for May 2.  Team member Emily Hauser explained the areas of expertise on which the Parliamentary Procedure team will be judged. Caleb Oberfall spoke about the Ag Mechanics team.

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The Ag Mechanics team includes a carpenter, a welder, a surveyor, an electrician and a mechanic, according to Wills.

“These kids have worked really hard and put in a lot of time,” Wills said. “I am very proud of them.”

FOOD SERVICES ISSUE

A former district cook and current substitute cook, who identified herself as Mandy, addressed the board on behalf of district cooks regarding the possibility of contracting with Opaa! Food Management, Inc. to provide meals in the local district. Opaa! representatives offered a detailed sales presentation to the board last month.

“I worked for Opaa! at Staunton,” she said. “You need to look into them. They’re not what they say they are.”

She alleged the “homemade meals” are not homemade, and are, in fact, the same quality as any other food provider.

“I’ve been in food services for a long time and I know what food should look like,” she said. “It shouldn’t look like dogfood.”

The fact the company offers choices, she said, is a good thing but is a double-edged sword. If a child doesn’t care for the main selection on a particular day, they can have a peanut butter sandwich or salad instead.

“But if little Johnny doesn’t like peanut butter or salad, he doesn’t eat that day,” she said.

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Having worked in the local district, she said she could attest that the food services staff cares about students.

In a related matter, Union Secretary Jennifer Parker read a statement from the food services staff thanking the board and Supt. Owsley “for the opportunity to continue to pursue options to bring more choices to the food program.”

OTHER ACTION

In other action, the board:

  • Voted to renew membership in the Illinois Elementary Schools Association (IESA).
  • Approved a finalized calendar for the 2024-25 school year. Owsley said the calendar is unchanged from a tentative calendar presented to the board earlier, except “snow days” have been designated as “emergency days.”
  • Approved a fee schedule for the 2024-25 school day. Owsley said the new fee schedule is nearly identical to the fee schedule used this year except that the cost for adult breakfasts and lunches is increased by 10 cents. In addition, the district will now offer free breakfast and lunch to students in all grade levels thanks to a federal reimbursement grant for districts with high numbers of students from low income households. In the past, free breakfast and lunch was available only to kindergarten, elementary, and middle school students. This year, Owsley said, the high school also qualified for reimbursement. According to Owsley, the reimbursement program is locked in for four years, after which the district may again apply. “Hopefully, this will help our parents and students,” Owsley said.

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