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The Board of Education of Crescent-Iroquois Community Unit District #249 met remotely Tuesday, Feb. 16. Those who were present were Steve Massey, Tim Kollmann, Brock Johnson, Christi Pheifer, Jody Niebuhr and Becky Dirks.

There were no changes to the agenda so the board discussed several items. One of those was TRS, which is a mandated action item. The TRS is a savings opportunity plan for teachers to take part in if they want. The board went over a financial profile handout which the state board distributes each year and the District #249 earned the highest rating, which is 4.

The most discussion was on options the board may have in regards to three classes at the junior high level: English, Language Arts and Social Studies. These positions have been advertised a couple years – as of now, there are no applicants. Originally, the board planned to send the 6-7-8th grade students to Watseka full-time; however, due to regulations, that cannot be done on a full day basis. So the board has to find a way for the junior high students to get these classes.

The best solution to this problem, of course, is to get applicants. The board advised Superintendent Rod Grimsley to place an advertisement in a local newspaper and be listed at career fairs. It would also be beneficial if the board could find retired teachers who would be willing to do a full year of teaching. Other options would be remote learning with video instruction from other schools or to purchase online classes from outside sources. There is also the possibility of sending the Crescent City Grade School junior high students to Watseka part-time to receive instruction.

Supt. Grimsley had received a quote and contract from Scanics for the board to look over. Scanics is a company which will digitize the records from Crescent-Iroquois High School. There are three groups the records will be categorized in: Records which must be scanned and kept, records which must be shredded, and records which can be trashed.

The school calendar will need to be discussed more at the next meeting, and it was noted the building committee meeting had to be canceled. CCGS, in addition to the junior high positions, also needs an elementary teacher and a PE teacher.

The superintendent’s report noted the boiler had been shutting down periodically so a part was ordered to fix it. One of the vans will need the plastic wrap around the back bumper fixed this summer. Expenses were updated for the year and entered on a spreadsheet, and state and federal reporting is ongoing each month.

For Principal James DeMay’s report, enrollment is at 56 in-building students (two remote learners and one student at Bryce), and 32 students attending area high schools. For athletics, six girls from CCGS are participating in volleyball with Watseka, and three boys from CCGS will participate in basketball at Watseka. It was reported staff members have been doing well adjusting their schedules and plans to remote learning. Students continue to take their Chromebooks home each night in case a remote learning day has to take place.

DeMay’s report also noted Title money will be used to place smartboards in each classroom, but the smartboards are currently on backorder. It is hoped they will be installed in March. Friday, May 7, will be an institute day and it is planned for staff to receive smartboard training then. Students in K-5th grades celebrated the 100th day of school on Monday, Feb. 8 (it was originally set for Friday, Feb. 5). The state testing window opens March 15, but this date has already been pushed back twice. Currently, the state superintendent is looking at not having the testing this school year. According to the state superintendent, the US Department of Education will be advocated to make waivers available for spring 2021 assessments, so if these are made available, Illinois will apply for it.

In regards to the 5Essentials survey, all students and staff will do this survey each month. The 5Essentials survey identifies five indicators which lead to improved outcome for all studnets, including improved attendance and larger test score gains. The five indicators which positively affect school success are: Effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environments and ambitious instruction. Research derived from the 5Essentials for School Success has proven schools which are strong on at least three of the five indicators are 10 times more likely to improve student outcomes. Schools across the state participated in the eighth annual “5Essentials Survey of Learning Conditions: Organizing Schools for Improvement” this past academic year. The survey generates valuable data districts can use to guide their ongoing efforts to improve schools and offer students an excellent education. The survey is another improvement tool which allows districts and the state to share data as a means to inform parents and community members about the school’s learning environment. The Illinois 5Essentials Survey is administered online by UChicago Impact at the University of Chicago on behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education.

The first agenda item was to approve the minutes of the Jan. 19 meeting, the January treasurer’s report, February bills, the Imprest fund and petty cash reports of January; left the closed minutes closed, the destruction of audio tapes older than 18 months, and to accept the Financial Profile Score from ISBE. The board then approved the TRS Section 457 Supplemental Savings Plan and the contract from Scanics for shredding and file digitizing of old CIHS documents.

The board entered an executive session to discuss the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees of the district or legal counsel for the district, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employe or against legal counsel for the district to determine its validity. However, a meeting to consider an increase in compensation for a specific employee of a public body that is subject to the local government wage increase transparency act may not be closed and shall be open to the public and posted and held in accordance with this Act.

Once the executive session ended, the board reconvened into the regular session and adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. March 15 at CCGS.

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