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The Chrisman School board met on September 13, 2021. The meeting began with the FY2022 Edgar County CUSD #6 School District budget hearing. Once the budget was accepted, the regular meeting began with the approval of consent agenda and financial matters including imprest fund reimbursement in the amount of $3,709.94.
Elementary school principal Kelly Schluter presented the board with the recent and upcoming events at the building. Open House was held on August 16th and Patriotic Day was September 1st, followed by the first day of preschool on September 7th.
Upcoming events include First Quarter mid-term on September 15th and No School on October 8th and 11th. Picture Day will be October 14th along with Health Life Safety Inspection by the ROE on the 14th as well.
Schluter is currently working on adjusting some routes and times so that what drivers are available can cover multiple routes/trips. The district however is still in desperate need of more drivers, both full time and part time.
STAR Reader Test have been completed for all grades at the elementary school. For MAP Testing, fall benchmarks have been completed at the elementary building as well. Enrollment for the school is one hundred and one students. Preschool will soon have eighteen students. As of September 10th, fifteen students at the elementary school are quarantined.
For the junior high/high school, September 20th is Teacher Peer Observation Day and September 23rd is EdDirection Visit. Financial Aid night will be split into two parts with the first being on September 28th and the next on October 5th. October 5th and 6th will also be the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt visit. October 7th will be a visit to Danville Area Community College. October 8th is Regional Teacher Institute and October 13th is PSAT/NMSQT for the High School Juniors.
Recently, Mr Huber surveyed parents/community members as to how they would like to see the district’s ESSER III funding to be spent. Fifty-one percent would like to see building improvements at the Junior High/High School. Forty percent would like to see an after school program at the Elementary school and thirty-eight point five percent would like to see it spent on social emotional student needs.
The top write in results was pave the junior high/high school parking lot and air conditioning the in high school gym. Mr. Acklin has reached out to Ben Jenness to put some numbers together to see if this would be something that can be pursued with these funds.
With a full schedule this year, the junior high/high school was able to add ‘Home Room’ back to the schedule. This enables times for clubs to meet without missing any class time, but also has some other advantages.
Grades six though eleven were working three times a week with an SEL curriculum ‘CharacterStrong’. Students are able to reflect on characteristics and ‘soft skills’ that will help them understand the many feelings they are having as a teenager. “We have only done it for one week as of yet, but I received very positive feedback from those I have talked to about it,” Huber said.
Ms. Pillen and Mr. Huber have had the opportunity to work with the Seniors during Home Room. Together, they are covering everything including things that might help them prepare for post-high school life. So far, they have worked on resumes, professional etiquette such as emails and phone calls. Later, the plan is to work on interview skills, cover letters and more. “We’ve also had speakers from several colleges as well as career fields such as trades, plus financial advice like investment, banking and taxes,” Huber said.
The September sales tax revenue for the district came out to $12,727.38, giving the district an average of $9900 per month. The district has also received the projected increase from the IERMP cooperative about health insurance. “Unfortunately, our loss ratio of one hundred and nineteen percent has bumped us into a less favorable tier,” Superintendent Acklin said. Along with the five to six percent increase by the rest of the cooperative, the district will yield an overall increase of fifteen to sixteen percent.
The final changes to the FY22 budget are currently being made. The final budget was presented to the board before the regular meeting began, but will differ slightly form the tentative budget.
For the tentative budget, the district has projected the following in their four major funds. In Education, revenue is $3,348,778 with expenditures totaling $3,345,797 for a surplus of $2,981. In O&M, revenue is $460,211 with expenditures totaling $414,888 for a surplus of $45,323. In transportation, revenue is $254,688 with expenditures totaling 198,400 for a surplus of $56,388. Working cash fund us $31,159. Totaled the expected revenue is $4,094,836 with expenditures totaling $3,958,985 for a surplus of $135,851.
As discussed at the August meeting, the district has received a quote for fifteen LED lights for the junior high/high school parking lot. The installation will cost a total of $9,067 with a net cost of $5,963 after incentives with a payback period of approximately four and a half years.
The board of education indicated they wanted to revisit its mask mandate decision at the September meeting.
Acklin stated for all the reasons that he brought up at the August meeting, plus the loss of opportunities to compete in IESA and IHSA state series competitions and potential TRS sanctions, Acklin recommended that the district continues to follow the mandate.
In support of local control for school districts, a group of school have organized an effort that may result in a ‘friendly suit’ against a district that states the mask mandate violates student’s rights. This battle would be fought in the 5th Appellate Court District.
The school board would not be an active plaintiff, but could be involved by offering support to the district that’s being sued. The cost of being involved is approximately fifty cents per student and we would benefit if the case is won and sets precedent.