Following the use of four snow days in February, the 2022-23 school year has lengthened for Massac Unit 1 students and staff. The school board approved amending the current school year calendar during its meeting Monday, Feb. 27.
The 2022-23 school year will now end Wednesday, May 31, for students and Thursday, June 1, for staff pending the use of any more emergency days.
The board also approved the 2023-24 school calendar. Teacher in-service will be Aug. 10-11, with students’ first day being Monday, Aug. 14. The scheduled last day for students is May 23, 2024.
The board listened to two public comments:
• Todd Sumner addressed the board with his concerns following the Friday, Feb. 27, school improvement meeting where a book representative discussed a new reading series with elementary teachers. Sumner read samples from a Grade 4 book that included “objectionable subject matter,” “disturbing topics” and “words that would have been flagged if students had searched them with their Google Chromebooks.” Sumner said objections were raised by the staff to the representative. “This series did not align with your standards and the standards of our community. I know you have very high standards for our district. I know you believe the law mandates our schools be physically and emotionally safe places for our students to be educated,” he said. He suggested the hiring of a curriculum director or the forming of curriculum committees to review proposed changes to the curriculum and the development of a curriculum policy that aligns with the district and community standards, if there is not one. Sumner expressed his appreciation of the staff who researched the curriculum and “stood for what’s right. I’m proud of you.” Superintendent Jason Hayes explained the reading series is one of six the committee is looking at as an option. He noted it aligns with Illinois Standards and is being used in surrounding districts. He emphasized it will be the teachers who vote on which reading series to use. Board president Mark Souders and board member Don Koch expressed their appreciation to Sumner for his concern and bringing the situation to their attention, “opening our eyes.”
• Massac County Supervisor of Assessments Gary Hamm presented information on EAV (Equalized Assessment Value), taxes and school annexation. A story on the presentation will be in the March 9 edition of The Planet.
Following a 30-minute closed session, Monday’s meeting opened with a 15-minute hearing pursuant to Policy 8:30 Visitors to and Conduct on School Property, which considers denying admission to a school or events or meetings to a member of the public for up to a calendar year. The hearing centered around an incident at a basketball game at Metropolis Elementary School.
In other business, the board:
• Adopted a resolution authorizing a supplemental property tax levy to pay the principal of and interest on outstanding limited bonds of the district. Hayes explained the bond levy is separate from the regular levy and is regulated by law in a tax-capped district.
• Approved accepting bids for food services, student pictures and student insurance for the 2023-24 school year.
• Approved the resignations of: Lane Pegram as Massac County High School assistant football coach as of Jan. 13; Camilla Capps as MCHS school nurse as of Jan. 30; Andrew Margherio as MCHS chemistry teacher as of Feb. 10; and Jason Roper as MCHS football coach as of Jan. 22.
• And, approved the new employments of: Misty Foster as MES cook (vacant position); and Makenzie Gray as MES special education individual aide.
During his superintendent’s report, Hayes reported:
• There have been two issues with the new MCHS HVAC system — several units were overfilled with coolant at the factory, which caused them not to cool properly and the loop temperature setting in the program controls was preventing the cooling tower from activating. Hayes said the first issue has been corrected and the second has to get “the kinks worked out” as the system regulates to the building.
• Enrollment in the district is at 1,832 students, slightly higher than at this time last year. However, absentee numbers are starting to creep up again due to illnesses. Hayes reminded the board that chronic absenteeism is now part of the school report card being tracked by the state.
• Groundbreaking for the unit board office was set for March 1, but will take place when the ground is dry enough.
• Over spring break, Floorsite, Inc., will be at MCHS to do a test run on replacing carpet. During that test of four to five rooms, they’ll see how hard the existing carpet and glue will be to remove before making a summer work schedule. The company from Goreville was approved for the project of re-carpeting MCHS’s carpeted rooms at the January meeting.
There will be no school on Monday, March 6, in observance of Casimir Pulaski Day. Students will have a half day on Friday, March 31, dismissing at 11:30 a.m. for school improvement meetings. Spring break for Unit 1 will be April 7-14, with dismissal at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 6.
The board’s next regular meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 27, in the MCHS library.
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