The Panhandle School Board met a little later than usual for the month of April as they awaited the canvassing of ballots from the March election in order to seat those board members who were elected.
Three spots were up for grabs in March, with two board members, Scott Cowdrey and Gabe Pope, running unopposed for re-election. The third spot previously belonged to Rick Bormida, who opted not to run for re-election after 12 years on the board.
Bormida was thanked prior to the start of the meeting on April 29 for his commitment to the district and was given a clock by Superintendent Aaron Hopper.
Bormida’s replacement is yet to be determined. Hopper said the board has 60 days to seat a new board member, with the process starting by notifying the regional superintendent and publicizing the vacancy.
Related to the “new” board, the members also approved the canvassing of ballots, swore in Pope and Cowdrey and named Hopper President Pro Tem and Secretary Pro Tem, positions he had previously held as well.
After adjourning sine die (without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing), the board approved officers with Terri Payne, Dana Pitchford and Linda Brown returning as president, vice president and secretary respectively. The board also approved the current board meeting schedule, which will have them continue to meet on the third Monday of the month, with the exceptions of January, February and April, which will be the fourth Monday of those months.
Other housekeeping measures included approval of Brett Slightom as representative to the Panhandle Education Foundation, approval of Payne as representative to Mid-State Special Education and approval of existing board policies and procedures.
With those items complete, the board got down to new business, which mainly dealt with the end of this school year and the start of the next one. Payne, Slightom and Brown volunteered to represent the board at the high school graduation, while Cowdrey and Brown volunteered for the eighth grade recognition ceremony. Payne, Slightom and Cowdrey have children participating in the ceremonies, while Brown will have grandchildren at both events.
Hopper informed the board that graduation will be held at 7 p.m. on May 21, outside once again, with the gym to be used if it rains. He added that the ceremony will also be online via the NFHS streaming network.
The board approved job descriptions and the tentative high school schedule for the 2021-22 school year as well. Lincolnwood Principal Ken Schuster said that most of the changes in next year’s schedule deal with continuing education (CTE) and dual credit courses, in particular classes in agriculture that have been added.
Schuster said that weighted courses in psychology and sociology have also been added, along with earth science and consumer math.
Hopper said that the district continues to provide exploratory options for junior high students, such as computer science, geography, Spanish and foods.
Both Schuster and board member Dana Pitchford, who had recently helped her daughter set her schedule, commended guidance counselor Caleb Kirkpatrick for his work on the schedule.
Beyond the educational aspects of preparing for the 2021-22 school year, Hopper listed some of the maintenance items that needed to be taken care of during the summer, including general painting, carpet replacement, replacing a wooden interior garage door with a metal one, removal of two trees and repair of a steam table in the cafeteria.
Hopper said that the district has also received grant money for a new floor buffer and automatic flushers for the toilets. He added that the district should look at purchasing a small tractor with a mowing deck due to the age and state of disrepair of the current three-mower fleet. Hopper said the tractor could also be used for other things such as unloading materials and snow removal.
In addition to those maintenance items, the gym floor will also be waxed and one of the rooms in the grade school will be converted into a library in honor of the late Darci Terneus, who taught in the Panhandle district for 15 years.
Hopper also spoke about Camp Lancer, the summer program that will help students in kindergarten through fifth grade catch up. Hopper said that the camp will be open to as many as 36 students, with need a priority, whether it be students with Individualized Education Programs or those not performing as well as they would like.
The program, which is funded mostly by Title One funds and the CARES Act, will be conducted by three certified staff members and three aids. In addition to the 36 younger students, seven high school students will also be using credit recovery software to catch up.
Pitchford asked if there was a stipend for teachers who are participating in the camp. Hopper said there is and the camp is modeled after the district’s after school program.
Invitations for the camp, which will be held from 8 to 11 a.m., will go out soon.
Prior to entering executive session, the board approved the 2021 senior trip, which will be mostly local, with a trip to the Edge in Belleville the furthest distance traveled. Hopper said the schedule for the final week is finals on May 17-18, the senior trip on May 19, graduation practice on May 20 and graduation on May 21.
After closed session, the board approved the resignation of Lesley Cowdrey as junior high assistant volleyball coach and Bill Krager as high school boys basketball assistant coach and the employment of Christine Lipe as a certified special education teacher. Ali Harris was also approved as volunteer cheer coach.
In the administrative reports presented to the board, Hopper said that the Montgomery County Consortium continues to meet monthly to work and develop improved CTE offerings. In addition to the four Montgomery County high schools, six Macoupin County schools have been added to the consortium and the possibility of a career center in the county is in the works.
Hopper also updated the board on the revenue from the county facility sales tax ($25,724.14 in April, up more than $3,000 from March) and on the reorganization committee, which met on April 22 and continues to develop a presentation on deactivation and reorganization. Two committees will be formed, one reviewing contract needs for both school districts and another working to build a potential schedule for the junior and senior high school.
In her update, Farmersville Grade School Principal Jana Masten said the school had a school improvement day on April 23 with half a day of attendance. The students planted seeds and learned about the planet in celebration of Earth Day, while the teachers worked on requisitions in the afternoon.
In his report Schuster detailed upcoming events at Raymond Grade School and Lincolnwood Junior/Senior High, along with an update of the success of the Lincolnwood FFA students and athletic teams over the last month.
The board adjourned the meeting at 9:04 p.m. They will meet again in May on Monday, May 17, at 7 p.m. in the Lincolnwood High School library.