Unit 40 School Board

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Published on June 25 2012 9:33 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Unit 40 students still have a few weeks of freedom before heading back to class in mid-August.  Their teachers and administrators haven't had it that easy.

Unit 40 Curriculum Director Michelle Beck told the school board Monday that teachers and administrators have been working on adjusting instruction to comply with the new Common Core Standards implemented by the State, particularly as it affects English and Language Arts teaching. 

Beck also shared that the District is revamping its mentoring of new teachers by experienced teachers, going from utilizing the Regional Office of Education methods to their own program.  She also mentioned that administrators are going through instruction on evaluation of staff.

The Board adopted a revamped budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year.  The changes include paying for $125,000 in parking lot improvements at the Early Learning Center from the Operations and Maintenance Fund rather than Workers' Compensation as had been discussed earlier; letting funds moved from the Tort Fund stay in those funds rather than repaying them to that fund; and including Early Retirement Incentive funds in the IMRF Fund.

Unit 40 Superintendent Mark Doan reported that the district's fund balance is down almost 5% from last year, but the balances in education, operations and maintenance and transportation are up more than 17% from last year.  Doan said those are the funds that are utilized on a daily basis.

Doan reported that some technology upgrades are taking place.  He said 200 computers at Effingham High School have been overhauled and another group is now being retrofitted from the junior high school.

Regardless of fund balances, all Illinois districts are monitoring Governor Quinn's efforts to shift the cost of covering teacher pensions to the school districts rather than the State.  Doan said, "The Governor feels districts can take over those costs; I disagree."  He said, regardless of what happens in the matter, litigation will follow.

The Board paid the monthly bills, including the District's contribution to the School Resource Officer program for the coming school year; heard that enrollment as of the end of the year is down 28 students from last year; and heard that the district is seeking a Kindergarten teacher due to expected enrollment of more than 200 students.  Doan also said the District will begin the process of seeking two administrators since Early Learning Center Principal Kay Halford and Edgewood School Principal Wanda Brooks will be retiring at the end of the coming year.  He hopes to make recommendations in September so the transition process can begin.

Board members awarded property casualty insurance coverage to Indiana Insurance through Weis Insurance Agency of Effingham again this year for $131,607, an 18% increase.  Doan said it was just the second year with the firm and thinks that's not enough experience on which to base taking bids from other vendors.  The Board also extended Doan's three-year contract by one more year and gave him the same percentage raise as district teachers will receive for this year.  His contract now runs through the 2014-2015 school year.

The Board approved a two-year agreement with the Regional Office of Education to use space at West Side School including an in-school suspension room for students in Grades 6-12.  Services will be relocated from the Lincolnland Building to West Side.  Unit 40 will be paid $25,000 the first year for the West Side space and will be allotted up to 10 of the 15 seats in the classroom if needed.

Board members also awarded a contract to replace the roof on Central Grade School.  The work will cost $421,460, a price that the District's architecture firm said is the lowest they've seen in a while.  A portion of the roof was damaged by winds and the District received some insurance compensation.  The District also plans to seek a State maintenance grant to help defray some of the cost.

In personnel moves, the Unit 40 Board accepted retirements from teachers LuAnn Field and Terry Harbaugh after the 2015-2016 school year, and from paraprofessional Shirley Moore effective this Friday.

Resignations were accepted from Chelsea Ruholl and Angela Dust as cafeteria monitors, and a leave of absence from Annette Schackmann.

The Board hired Tiffany Gould as a high school Language Arts and English teacher.  Gould will replace Kurt Roberts who was recently named assistant principal at Effingham Junior High School.  Also hired as Vivian Cain as Edgewood cafeteria monitor and new Unit 40 Business Manager Rem Woodruff as District Treasurer.  Several people were hired as extended school year personnel, including paraprofessionals Kathryn Koester, Nancy Meyer and Lisa Miller; teachers Jennifer Castillo, Bernice Schabbing and Christine Killion; bus drivers Rhonda Tweedle and Janet Inman; and bus aides Lillie Stevens and Rita Bushue.

Doan reminded the Board that the District's mentoring program will be featured at the state school board convention in November.