Hillsboro School Board Prepares For Next Year

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With the current school year three-quarters complete, discussion of items relating to next school year were on the agenda for the Hillsboro School Board when they met on Tuesday, March 12.

Tentatively, school will begin next fall on Monday, Aug. 19, for staff with two teachers' institute days.  Classes will begin for students on Wednesday, Aug. 21.

"We typically have a school calendar in place by now, and we don't have one," Assistant Superintendent Kyle Hacke said due to anticipated changes in state law that will likely impact the school calendar, "but I feel like we've got to give people something."

The last day before Christmas break would be Friday, Dec. 20–again, tentatively–and second semester would resume either Jan. 6 or Jan. 7, 2020.  

If the eight just-in-case snow days are used, school would end on June 5, 2020.

June 5 is rather late, which gave some board members pause.  Board members will take final action on next year's calendar when state legislators finish legislating.

After a two-and-a-half-hour closed session at the end of the meeting, the board accepted the resignation of two grade school teachers effective at the end of the school year: Ryan Garrett at Coffeen and Jacqueline Fenske at Beckemeyer.  

They also voted to dismiss junior high teacher William Sears at the end of the school year.  Jeremy Connor and Corbin Govaia were hired as assistant football coaches, and all other coaches of fall and winter sports were reemployed on a 6-1 vote with board member Dan Tester voting against.

Reorganization and consolidation in Mid-State Special Education was also on the agenda for an update.

"It's a complicated issue, but we're moving forward," Superintendent David Powell said about negotiations that began last week preparing to move teachers and aides currently employed by Mid-State into the direct employment of the school district.  Those negotiations will continue on Friday this week.

Board discussions began about an HVAC upgrade and bleacher replacement in the high school gym, and adding a new drive at Beckemeyer.

District maintenance director Fred Butler pointed out that the gymnasium part of the high school gym building is not air conditioned (classrooms in the building are), and heating units are 34 years old.  Improvements would require electrical upgrades. His estimate, with advice from electric and HVAC professionals, was about $250,000.

"We don't need a decision tonight," Powell said.  "This is just to get it out there and start the discussion."

Butler also discussed replacement of the flimsy plastic seats in the gym, widening stairways and adding handrails.  Bleacher replacement alone will cost $38,000.  Board member Dan Wilson asked if students could weld handrails.

"They could, if they are made well," Tim Downen of Hurst-Rosche said when the question was referred to him.  The point at which they are attached to the concrete steps is another issue.

"If we replace the seats and add handrails, we'll make a lot of senior citizens happy," board member Earl Meier said.

Board member Barbara Adams asked if handrails could be paid through the tort liability levy.  They perhaps could, but all the projects qualify for funding through school facility sales tax revenue.

Another item for consideration is a separate access from Fairground Avenue to the teachers' parking lot on the east side of Beckemeyer, which tends to get congested at the beginning of the school day when school buses are unloading.  That, too, is a long-range project that the board will continue to explore.

As part of the consent agenda, the board renewed its annual membership in the Illinois High School Association.

At the recommendation of Downen, the board approved final payment of $16,415 to Littiken Construction for the project at the junior high that primarily connected the main building to the cafeteria building with an indoor handicapped-accessible corridor.

"We have been focusing a lot on sports, but I thought I would let you know about other great things Hillsboro High School students have been doing," Principal Patti Heyen said before describing students who have earned awards in academics, music, art, and FFA near the beginning of the meeting.  The board and audience enthusiastically applauded the honors.

Board members approved continuing to lease solar equipment at Beckemeyer for two more months at no charge to the district.

Also regarding personnel after the closed session, the board accepted the retirement of Donna Luck after 49 years as a school bus driver.  She began working for the school district in the 1969-70 school year as a substitute bus driver for 20 years, and has been a full-time for the past 29 years.

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