During the Monday night's Massac Unit One board meeting, Massac Unit One Superintendent Jason Hayes brought up board member Kathy Rushing's idea of having school board meetings be more convenient for the public to attend.

The board discussed central locations and determined the three most viable options would be Massac County High School, (MCHS) Massac Junior High School (MJHS) or Metropolis Elementary School (MES).

After discussing the pros and cons of each location, the board agreed by consensus the best location would be Massac County High School's library. Hayes also brought to the board's attention the next scheduled meeting falls on the week of Thanksgiving.

The board approved a motion changing the November meeting from the fourth Monday to the third Monday. The next meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the library at MCHS.

When the floor was opened to public comment, the board listened to grandparent Luckie Atkinson's concerns. He addressed the board wanting to know what the district's section 504 plan is.

Atkinson said his children are grown but has grandchildren attending MES. He explained he had gone to the parent-teacher conference and was shocked to hear students are no longer being taught how to spell. He said a sixth grade teacher had told him if a student gets close to spelling a word, there is autocorrect. "If that's the case, we're in trouble," said Atkinson, who had previously talked with Hayes about his concerns.

Hayes said he explained to Atkinson the district does not create a universal 504 plan and the district is mandated to teach what the state tells the district to teach.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, "Section 504" is a nondiscrimination statute enacted by the U.S. Congress to: protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education and ensure that disabled students have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to non-disabled students.

Unit One board member Jennifer Larrison, whose children attend Franklin Elementary, told Atkinson her children do have graded spelling tests and at least one of the teachers does teach children cursive writing.

Atkinson's main concern is what the district is doing for the children and concerned whether all students are being taught the same across the district. He also mentioned he had spoken to 10 parents of students at MES and four out of the 10 have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Atkinson said those students have no counselor or advocate. He told the board he would keep coming back to the meetings.

While the district does not have a 504 plan, it does have a universal 504 procedural safeguards document and it can be found at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1R4TXmaK6bJBoN0y959YKoIRh12sn8x6A/view

Shain Lloyd, Banterra Bank branch manager also visited Monday night's meeting to explain an investment opportunity for the board. Lloyd said interest rates are up, and there is a money market account offering a 1.75 percent interest rate.

According to Lloyd, the account is a "sweep account," which is fully FDIC insured, and while technically the money would never leave, on paper the funds would be "swept" to other institutions.

Lloyd said this account is a cross between a checking account and a savings account and is limited to six transactions within a month, but the money is available at any time if the district needs.

He also explained how another school district had started using a sweep account and was able to hire another employee and pay for the salary. The board was in agreement if the district does have enough money to invest, it would behoove the district to do so.

In Hayes' board report, he said the district's expenditures is right at $1.9 million and the cash balance on hand is a little over $4 million.

He also noted the district's financial profile is at 3.90, which is the highest it has ever been.

Hayes said the planning phase has begun for a capital grant application, when and if, the capitol development board releases money. Several steps, including information gathering are involved, and there are no guarantees. Unit One wants the application to be ready by March 2020.

He reported the HVAC controls at Brookport and MJHS are almost complete, and now there are issues with the computer system at MES.

Lagoon repairs at Unity are ready to be made, the contractor is waiting on the weather to break. The contractor is ready to work on Franklin's parking lot expansion, but when an attempt was made last week the ground was still too wet.

According to Hayes, Brookport, MES and MJHS, the three buildings with the highest electricity usage, are scheduled to have their gym lights replaced with LED lights, which should consume less electricity and hopefully last longer.

He told the board the district ordered 32 Chromebooks for Franklin and Unity, ordered 70 student calculators for MCHS and MJHS, a charging station for Jefferson and two 3D printers for MCHS and MJHS through grant funds.

According to Hayes, MES and MJHS have the opportunity to pay for tutoring and student pull-out services from the Title one School Improvement funds, and with the money, $30,000 can be allocated to each school and can be used to add staff on a year-by-year basis.

The annual school report card data and summative designations will be released Wednesday, and he will be working with the Metropolis Planet on another news article to share Unit One's results with parents and the public.

In the area of personnel, the board accepted a resignation from: Kim Dillard, MCHS nurse; accepted retirements from: John Taborn, effective immediately and Vern Case, effective December 31, 2019.

Approved the new hiring of: Jonathan Kindle, MCHS night custodian (formerly John Taborn); and Jeff Cima, Brian Hankins, Cord Koch and Jon Haverkamp, all as MCHS assistant football coaches. Hayes noted the football positions were open this season; no new positions were added and some are splitting stipends. Also, Calvin Morse was also hired as MCHS assistant baseball coach.

The board also acknowledged the transfer of: Mary Carrell to MCHS nurse -- after Kim Dillard leaves this position.

A motion was also made and approved adjusting Unit One employee Jamey Mitchell's salary to match the salary of a bookkeeper for a district of Unit One's size. The motion passed in a six to one vote, with Rushing abstaining.

In other business, the board:

• Again tabled the operations and maintenance and health life safety options for the future, pending more planning and options from the district's architect.

• Officially approved a motion accepting the Blue Cross-Blue Shield healthcare renewal plan. Hayes pointed out there was a slight increase.

• Added Edward Jones as an eligible advisor for staff with a 403b plan. Hayes said it does not change ownership of the 403b plans through Metro Financial, the action only allows Edward Jones to discuss these plans with Unit One staff members who use this firm.

• Authorized Hayes to make investments with local financial institutions. Hayes said he would check with other institutions regarding investment opportunities, but feels the Banterra money market account would be a good move for the district.

• And, received a first the first reading and consideration of several board policies.

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