Russ Leigh reported at Thursday’s Hoopeston school board meeting the school audit was a clean audit with no issues.

Leigh said the school district “was in a good financial place” with “good bonding power.” He noted the district was on the recognition list for the State of Illinois for “financial stability and good financial stability” with a score of 4.0.

“4.0 is the highest score possible,” Leigh said. He added the State of Illinois wants to put the students’ activity funds in the budget. Down the line, Leigh said, the district will see if the State will let the schools keep all the activity funds or pull part of it into the state funds.

The 2020 tax levy was approved unanimously. Superintendent Robert Richardson said the levy was under 5 percent, therefore, the district is not required to hold a truth in taxation hearing. The 2020 tax levy is $4,486,296.25, an increase over last year of $183,055.12.

Richardson added information from the IASA Governmental Relations & Advocacy Committee.

“The Governor has asked to see scenarios of 5 percent ($440 million) reduction this year and 10 percent ($845 million) reduction next year in school funding. A reduction would require legislative action.” These requested scenarios came after the defeat of the Governor’s fair tax plan failed to pass.

In other school board business, the memorandums of understanding for FFCRA, special education teachers and coaches/sponsors were approved unanimously. According to Richardson, “If a sport or activity is cancelled, the coach or sponsor may develop a plan of program improvement to earn their stipend.” Coaches at the present are not able to coach due to COVID.

The lighting upgrade work at Maple Grade School was approved unanimously for $47,410. This upgrade done by Twin Supplies, Ltd would increase the lighting efficiency at the school, Richardson said. Work should begin in mid December.

Regarding the current tuition waiver the Hoopeston Area District has in place, Richardson said, “We are looking into writing a tuition waiver to allow employees’ children to attend Hoopeston Area Schools without paying tuition. We will be working on that process to submit the application by the January 15 deadline.”

The board is looking into a special December meeting to approve a second semester scheduling plan which “would allow more time to communicate the schedule to families within our District.”

The goal, Richardson said, is to “continue doing what we are doing as long as we can” while following the guidelines.

The Child Care Leave for PEL teacher for the second semester of 2020-21 school year was approved with an effective date of January 4, 2021, and the employment of Denise Bray as the transportation director at Hoopeston Area CUSD 11 effective November 20, 2020, was also approved.

The Athletic Director’s report noted that the weight room would only be in use during PE classes and not before or after school, that coaches could interact with athletes on one-on-one coaching during this mitigation and could practice basketball outside as long as six feet apart, have a mask on at all times and no more than 10 or less students at a time for practice.

The HEA President Dylan Swank reported the next bargaining sit downs would take place January 6 and 13, 2021. Swank also stated due to a financial surplus in HEA funds, the group wants to give back to its members and Hoopeston Area businesses by purchasing gift cards to thank the members and the community.

Learned the air conditioning at John Greer has a leak in the boiler that was found by the State fire marshal and will be repaired.

Learned the AC units at John Greer and Maple Grade schools are being overseen by UpChurch and Ameren. Information will be available soon on the upgrades.

Buildings and grounds director Tim Walsh reported that the Middle School HVAC system is more than 20 years old and has request information on what one unit would cost with the possibility to use the old unit for parts until the other units could be replaced. He added the electric lines to both the high school and middle school will need to be replaced in the near future and has asked for a quote and how to proceed. LED lights are replacing old lights in the schools for better efficiency.

The FFA report will be presented at the January 2021 meeting.

Saturday, January 9, 2021 will be the Board of Education retreat.

The next Hoopeston school board meeting will be at 6 p.m. December 17, at the high school library or vitually.

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