Unit 40 Board Votes to Extend Superintendent's Contract


Published on March 25 2013 10:06 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham Unit 40 Board of Education Monday voted to extend the contract of Superintendent Mark Doan through the end of the 2017-2018 school year. 

The vote comes two weeks before the April 9 school board election.  Two candidates present at the meeting, Jim Keith and Steve Bone, were critical of the vote coming this close to the election.  The two incumbents seeking re-election to the Board, Galen Altman and Brian Wick, abstained from voting on the matter.  The other five Board members voted in favor of granting the extension.

The contract extension is longer than is typically granted.  Contract extensions for superintendents are typically for one year or three years.  Board President Delbert Soltwedel said Doan's salary will be determined annually, based upon the increases granted teachers and support staff members.

Soltwedel said, "we are one of the few districts not in financial straits, and that's based on what (Doan) has recommended we do."  Board member Brad Meinhart said Doan "has consistently scored high on evaluations" and made the motion to grant the contract extension.

Effingham Unit 40 board members Monday learned about KIDS, a student evaluation tool for Kindergarten students to help with their transition to first grade.

KIDS is an acronym for Kindergarten Individual Development Survey.  It's a pilot program in Unit 40 and more than 50 other Illinois school districts this year and will be implemented statewide for the 2015-2016 school year.

Curriculum Director Chelle Beck said they hoped for two Kindergarten teachers to agree to participate in the pilot program but, instead, every Kindergarten wanted to take part in the effort.

Beck is working with Unit 40 teachers Jennifer Fox and Cheri Marten on the project, as those two will be administrators where Kindergarten students will be taught next year; Fox at the Early Learning Center following Kay Halford's retirement and Marten at Edgewood School following Wanda Brooks' retirement earlier in the school year.

Business Manager Rem Woodruff reported that the district has a 6% decrease in net fund balances and a 3.94% decrease in operating funds from last school year.  Woodruff said the District is receiving general state aid on the same schedule as last year.

Also Monday, the Unit 40 Board heard from Doan that the District is working on a change in employee evaluations to comply with State guidelines that take effect in 2016.  Four things are being sought: improve instruction and student achievement...foster a partnership with staff members to guard against an adversarial relationship...more consistent evaluation throughout the district...and obtaining meaningful feedback from staff members.  Doan said not many districts are working on the issue and thanked Beck and administrators for their efforts.

Unit 40 Foundation Advisor Todd Schuette reported that the Foundation Board would review grant requests from teachers at their April meeting and said that a vacancy still exists on the Board.  Contact Schuette at Central School if you're interested in joining the Foundation Board.

The Board heard that enrollment remains down 30 to 35 students from last school year and voted to seek health/life safety grants to replace emergency gas valve shutoffs in the Chemistry labs at Effingham High School and to do tuckpointing around the edge of the roof at EHS.

Board members were updated on changes in the Discipline Code at the junior high and high school buildings for next year.  EHS Assistant Principal Cody Lewis and EJHS Assistant Principal Kurt Roberts said they're working to get more standardization in policies, particularly concerning the dress code and the use of cell phones.  Roberts said they're also working to "not give students the option of not turning in their homework."

TO CLARIFY SOMETHING REPORTED EARLIER: Doan said suspensions in the district are down 50% from last school year.  Lewis said he has dealt with about 800 incidents at the high school, "but considering there are 850 kids, that's about one per kid."  Doan reported that there have been about 55 suspensions this year at Effingham High School and 42 at the junior high school.  Those incidents mentioned by Lewis range everywhere from tardies and bus writeups to suspensions or expulsions.  Roberts said, "the goal is keeping kids in school; that's where they need to be if they're not disrupting the learning environment."

The Board renewed Summer School at EHS.  EHS Principal Jason Fox said after the meeting that the classes will again be recovery courses to help students catch up.  Classes will be offered in English, American History, American Government, Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry.  The classes will be offered first to EHS students and then to students in neighboring districts if space is available.

The Board approved a three-year lease with Eastern Illinois Area Special Education for use of East Side School as well as rooms at the junior high and the high school for instruction; and approved a contract to resurface the floors in both gyms at Effingham High School.  The work will cost just under $38,000.  It's the first time for the floors to be resurfaced since the building opened.

In personnel moves, the Unit 40 board hired Lindsay VanBlaricum as high school volunteer assistant softball coach, hired Curran McNeely as high school volunteer assistant baseball coach, and hired Kayla Cordes as a cafeteria monitor at the Early Learning Center.  The Board granted Becky Eskew a leave of absence during next school year, accepted retirements from Angela Sloss as a cafeteria monitor and half-hour secretary at the Early Learning Center and from LuJean Roberts as a three-hour cook at the junior high school, and accepted the retirement of teacher Kelly Stortzum as of this September.

Doan also said that while the school calendar might be changing due to a snow day, Graduation Day will not change; it is still set for Sunday, May 19.