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Unit One meeting will deal with cuts

Thursday, March 02, 2017 - Updated: 3:23 PM
Michele Longworth
Massac Unit One board members got a brief overview of what is being called the “grand bargain,” at Monday night’s regular board meeting.
Smith said legislation that is before the Illinois General Assembly to vote on, has about 13 different pieces to it.  One of which is a change to the general state aid formula.  More money would go to schools and that would come from an income and service taxes.
The new formula, he said, would be a good thing for districts that are poorer in property value.
According to Smith, another part of the legislation is the “cost shift.”  He explained the state for many years has paid 8.5 percent into the teachers pension system, but for several years the state has used that money on other things and did not pay into the pension system.  Currently the state owes about $90 billion to the pension system for its portion of the Illinois teachers’ pensions.  The cost shift would then fall to the districts to pay that 8.5 percent, if the grand bargain passes.
Another component would be a hard property tax freeze.  He said the legislation is structured so that if one part fails, the whole legislation fails.
Prior to the end of the meeting it was announced by board Chairman Donnie Koch that the district will hold a special meeting Tuesday, March 7 at 6 p.m. at Massac County High School. Koch said Smith would present information pertaining to cuts and reductions for the upcoming school year.
In Smith’s report to the board he pointed out enrollment reports were in the board packets and also informed members of the spring divisional meeting, which will be held on Tuesday, March 14 at 6 p.m. in Cairo.  He said there will also be a candidate forum that evening, and he has invited the candidates seeking election to the school board.
On the topic of the spring election, he asked the board how it wants to canvass the election results.  He explained the board could deal with it at its regular April meeting or it could hold a special meeting.
It was the consensus of the board to canvas the election results and seat the new board at its regular meeting on Monday, April 24.
Smith updated the board on the topic of allowing non-resident students attend the district.  The waiver was to have been filed by January 13 and the district has missed that deadline.  He said he was not able to find any prohibition from the Illinois High School Association.
Additionally, Smith reported the other districts that currently have a general assembly approved waiver allowing non-resident students of full-time employees to attend tuition free include: Vienna, Goreville, Carterville, Crab Orchard, Johnston City, Marion, Thompsonville, Herrin as well as others.
The last item Smith spoke about was the Bowles Building, which the board had voted to bring up to code so that it could be utilized by students.  Smith said in order to make it accessible; the cost would be around $78,000.  “There’s just no way around it,” said Smith.  After hearing what Smith said, the board took no action on the matter.
At 8:15 p.m. the board suspended its regular meeting to enter into a special hearing pertaining to classes being held next year on Lincoln’s Birthday.  With no objections to that, the board voted unanimously for Unit One schools to remain open on Lincoln’s birthday.  Smith said because of the waiver, teachers would need to incorporate Lincoln into the classroom curriculum on that day.
Although summer is still months away, Smith said he had a meeting with Scott Deming and former Unit One Superintendent Sharon Burris about the district re-instating its summer lunch program at Metropolis Elementary School (MES).
According to Smith, Deming and Burris both said they could assure three to four days per week they would be able to have 100 kids there to eat.  
Smith said the last time the summer lunch program was held the district lost money.  After talking to Food Service Director Mary Jacob she said if they scale the program back to just two people, she thought the district would not lose money.
Under new business, the board had the calendar approved by Massac County Education Association, which shows a start date of Tuesday, Aug. 15, with a fall break from Oct. 9-13.  Christmas break will begin Dec. 22, and classes will resume on Jan. 3, 2018.  Also included in the calendar is a spring break from April 2-6, 2018.  The calendar has 180 pupil attendance days, one parent teacher day and four teacher inservice days.
In the area of personnel, the board accepted the extra curricular resignations from Tyson Bormann from junior high boys track; Andrew Morrow from assistant football coach; and Luke Caporalle, as MCHS assistant girls track coach.
The board accepted the retirement of Lawrence Rolnicki effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year.
The board approved a motion to hire Luke Caporalle for junior high boys track and Molly Hargrove for MCHS physical education.
The board also acknowledged the transfers of Amanda Klankey to the early childhood classroom aide at Brookport; Jose Rodriguez to MES emotionally disturbed individual aide; and Susan Myers to MES early childhood.
The board also approved principal contract renewals for three years for Laura Walker, J.R. Conkle, Sarah Wessell, Brooke Durham and Justin Kindle.  In addition, they also approved a three-year contract for Special Education Coordinator Conci Kubitz and Technology Coordinator Tom Walker.  The board also acknowledged a reclassification to teaching for Kelli Ward for the 2017-18 school year.
In other business the board:
• Heard a brief presentation from Kubitz.  In her presentation she used two other similar sized districts with stand-alone special education services to compare Unit One with.  She presented the statistical comparison information. “We’re supporting our special needs population,” she told the board.
• Approved a motion accepting seven policies as they were presented.
• Re-approved the resolution acknowledging the full and complete intention to transfer the building known as the Primary School, located at 416 East Ninth Street, to Southern Seven Health Department once the tornado damage repairs are complete.  Smith said the previous resolution said Head Start, but did not specifically state Southern Seven Head Start.  On a related note, Smith told the board the district is in a spat with the insurance company as to who will pay for the asbestos removal at the building.
• Gave authorizations to the volleyball team to participate in an overnight trip to Effingham this September.  They will use the district’s mini bus.
• Acknowledged a high school trip to Italy, France and Spain.  The group going will use the district’s mini bus to be transported to and from the airport and will pay for the driver and the gas and the district will not be out any expense.
• Approved the executive session minutes.


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