School Board Approves Levy, Questions Land SwapJanuary 02, 2018
During their final meeting of the year the PLT#3 school board spent a long evening listing to reports, discussing changes in curriculum and approving the fiscal year 2018 tax Levy.
The board held a tax levy hearing prior to their monthly meeting. There were no comments made from the public or the board during the hearing. The board approved an increase of 4.88% in the tax levy for fiscal year 2018. This amounts to $198,000 in additional funds for the district.
Board President Ryan Inskeep started the meeting by listing the accomplishments the board has made during the past calendar year. He cited the formation of the board of control and that the board voted to fully co-op all sports and some activities. He went on to say the board was proud of the work they had done. “Change is never easy,” added Inskeep saying that he hoped the board would continue to move forward in the best interest of the students.
During principals’ reports PHS principal Josh Johnson told the board the high school would have three seniors graduating in December. Board member Kim Purvis asked if it would be possible to keep those students enrolled since they are taking advantage of the Sauk Valley Community College program but offers free tuition for students who graduate in the top 10% of their class. Keeping the students enrolled would mean continued funding from the state. Johnson said he had looked into the situation but was still awaiting additional information.
Purvis was also voiced her concerned that sophomores had scored higher than juniors on the math portion of the PSAT exam. She expressed the opinion that the scores may have been a product of a lack of consistency in instruction due to a number of changes in the curriculum.
Buildings and Grounds-
Superintendent Colmone reported lead testing had been completed at the grade schools. Click here to read the details of the results, previously posted in a story on Aroundptown.com.
A meeting with the Prophetstown Park District to discuss the proposed land swap was canceled. The intergovernmental agreements with the park district continued to be reviewed and updated. Later in the meeting there was further discussion about the status of the land swap. Several board members express their frustration with the lack of a decision. Board member James Melton said initially discussions were simply about improving the tennis courts and was not sure how it involved into a land swap. Inskeep suggested, as he has several times in the past few months, of getting a cost estimate for expanding the high school parking lot to the green space which is located to the west of the tennis courts. Board member Tya Boucher suggested that the entire idea of the land swap be retracted by the district. Several board members also indicated that with additional sports and activities being co-oped with Erie additional parking space will be needed.
Superintendent Colmone said one idea floated in the land swap was to move the district bus barn, located east of the football field, to the Grove Street property which is currently owned by the park district. That would increase parking for events at the football field and middle school. Kim Purvis suggested that a new bus barn might be better placed on a piece of land outside of town instead of using the Grove Street property for such a purpose. It was also suggested that the district architect develop an estimate for the size of a bus garage. No action was taken.
Curriculum- The committee worked on updating the curriculum guide for the high school. They also held discussions on doing away with the valedictorian and salutatorian awards at graduation. Grade-point averages have become much more complicated to dtermine and evaluate with advanced placement and dual credit classes involved. High school principal Johnson said some districts are going to a system that gives students cum laude and summa cum laude recognition during graduation.
Co-op Board of Control- Ryan Inskeep gave the report on the latest meeting of the co-op board. You can read the details of the meeting here. In regard to the report board member James Melton expressed his concern with the decision to not split the boys and girls home basketball schedule between the two schools. Inskeep said the board of control determined it was logistically better to keep the boy’s games in Erie and the girl's games in Prophetstown at least for one season. Melton was also named as the alternate member to the board of control from the PLT#3 District.
- reviewed the tax levy numbers
- noted there will be two retirements at the Tampico Elementary School at the end of this school year.
- Prophetstown Elementary school had some heating issues, but they have been resolved.
- lead testing has been completed and remediation steps taken.
- the principals from Prophetstown and Erie High Schools have been meeting to develop a plan to share academic classes.
- the superintendents from each district are checking with both Black Hawk and Sauk Valley Community Colleges to ensure that they will recognize each other’s dual credit courses.
- Map testing will be done students return in January.
Approval of the 2018-2019 district calendar was postponed. Kim Purvis questions the need for parent-teacher conferences in the spring saying they were very poorly attended last year particularly at the high school. “It’s not a good use of resources and we need to change something,” added Purvis.
High school principal Josh Johnson requested permission from the board to purchase software to allow the high school to begin doing STAR testing. He told the board he feels that this testing will give the teachers much better data than the data provided by MAP testing, which is currently done. The STAR test can be given much more frequently, but in a shorter duration, which will allow teachers to measure progress more closely. The test is aligned Illinois State Standards. The cost for the testing software is $2,500 for the rest of the school year. Johnson said the staff will then evaluate the new test to decide whether to make a complete switch the following year.
J.C. Henrekin, the coach of the Prophetstown High School shooting team, requested a renewal of permission to use the high school’s name for the team. They had a very successful inaugural season last year finishing second in their conference and participating in the state tournament. The board praised Henrekin for his work and granted him
permission to continue with the team. Sign-up will begin soon with a hope of having 20-30 students participate again.
Members of the PLT FFA presented to the board about their trip to the national convention in October. Click here to read about the details of their trip previously posted on Aroundptown.com The group would also like to take a spring trip to Fair Oaks Farms, which they briefly visited during the convention. They felt the facility had much more to offer and would like to explore it further. They will formally ask for permission to take the trip at the January Board Meeting.
The board took no action during executive session. The next board meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 22 at 6:15 PM.