At the December 18 Board of Education meeting:
Recognition of Visitors:
Two parents addressed the Board. They both expressed their thanks for our music program. They stated that Homer had one of the largest choirs in Will County. The parents were appreciative of the well-rounded opportunities that our students are given. They thanked Ms. Pullara for her dedication to the students.
Recognition of District Retiree:
Mr. Schoppe and Mr. Rounsaville recognized Nancy Lahey for her four years of services as a bus dispatcher.
Communication with the Board:
Homer Council co-president, Cathy Clayton, reported that the executive council met. At this time, there are no new concerns. Cathy wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The certified staff negotiation team will submit their first contract proposal to the Board of Education during the first week of February.
Susan Koziarski, representing the Homer Support Staff Council, wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Leave of Absences:
● ·Leah Rarick - 1st grade teacher at Young School - extension of current leave through June 15, 2019
● Lauren Niemiec - cheerleading coach at Homer Junior High School - eff. 12/11/18
● Marisa Lopez - 6th grade girls' basketball coach at Hadley - eff. immediately
● Alexis Gestaut - 1st grade elementary teacher at Young School - eff. 12/19/18
● Juliann Kocielko - bus driver at Transportation - eff. 1/7/19, dependent upon successful completion of a criminal background check and obtaining a CDL for driving a school bus. The anticipated start date listed is an estimate.
● Meghan Harris - clerical aide at Schilling School - eff. 12/19/18
● Brittany Dempsey - occupational therapist at Goodings Grove School - eff. 12/19/18
● John Hajek - 7th grade girls basketball coach - eff. 9/3/18
● Ashley Nelson - ASAP 4th grade ELA and math teacher at Schilling School - eff. for the 2018-2019 school year
● Vesna Zaharieva - ASAP 3rd grade ELA teacher at Schilling School - eff. for the 2018-2019 school year
● JoEllyn Moroney - ASAP 3rd grade math teacher and sub for Ashley Nelson, as needed, at Schilling School - eff. for the 2018-2019 school year
David Mekhiel, Assistant Director of Special Services, reported that special education lawyer, Laura Sinars, presented during the last teacher articulation day. The Special Education Department is researching professional development opportunities for the early childhood program, focused on S.E.L. and inclusionary practices. The Special Education Department is also working on creating a mission statement.
Mike Portwood, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, reported his department was in the process of collecting information for the Civil Rights Data Collection Report on staffing salaries and sources, which is updated every two years. Mr. Portwood shared that he was researching vetting on-boarding software to streamline our new hire paperwork and the contract distribution process. Also, he stated that the kindergarten "short form" is available to allow parents to begin the registration process. As a result, Ms. Gritzenbach is able to vet residency cases as they come in this year. Mr. Portwood also shared that currently $16,290 is owed from waiver registrants. He is working with a new collection agency.
Arlene Siefert, Director of Technology, reported her team will be conducting an inventory count at Schilling, district office and the Transportation Department. Ms. Siefert is also working with ComEd Energy Efficacy program to receive money back for replacing older equipment with newer equipment which reduces energy usage.
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, Mike Szopinski, presented 5th-7th grade parent and 6th-8th grade teacher survey results on students bringing chromebooks home. Mr. Szopinski shared that 85% of teachers believe students bringing chromebooks home would enhance student learning. The parent survey revealed that 82% of parents believe students bringing home chromebooks would enhance student learning. Mr. Szopinski stated that the district is in the process of preparing for a chromebook pilot in March.
Glen Wysong, Director of Buildings and Grounds, reported he is working with Tria Architects on mechanical plans for Hadley. He is in the process of developing a project schedule for summer work at Hadley.
Robert Rounsaville, Director of Support Personnel Service, reported that his department has received their second new bus. He is working to train his new bus dispatcher, Christine Kosmowski, who is replacing Nancy Lahey.
Ann Christie, Principal at Goodings Grove School, reported students are enjoying the new playground equipment. In January, Goodings students will take the N.A.E.P (National Assessment of Educational Progress) test. Mrs. Christie shared that she has been impressed with the academic gains made by students that are receiving Wilson intervention services. Ann also thanked Brian Baud and Jill Nye for supporting Goodings' students with OT services on their own time during the transition process to a new OT staff member.
Craig Schoppe, Superintendent, updated the Board that the District currently has installed 28 additional video cameras in the district; a total of 60 video cameras are currently located throughout the District. He shared that Rusty Novotny has installed an additional two servers to support our video cameras.
Assistant Superintendent for Business, Aleksas Kirkus, reviewed the completed Property Tax Relief Grant application with the Board. The Property Tax Relief Grant is an outgrowth of the state's move to evidence-based funding. $50 Million was set aside to reduce property taxes for the most highly-burdened communities. The grant is distributed to districts that apply, starting with the most highly-burdened districts. Homer is 183rd on the list of over 800 districts, so the chance of receiving any relief from the grant is low; however, the application process was trivial, and if many other districts ahead of us on the list do not apply because they assume they have no chance of receiving any award, there remains a slight possibility that we might qualify for some relief.
Pushcoin Rollout Plan:
The business office recently analyzed our online payment system. This analysis revealed that the District has an opportunity to reduce costs and simultaneously improve accuracy, transparency and reporting. To realize these benefits, Mr. Kirkus presented a plan moving the district to Pushcoin as our new online payment system. The timeline is for Pushcoin to replace EZ School Pay/Etrition over spring break. The most significant changes for parents include:
● Payments will now be accepted by ECheck with no fee.
● Credit card payments will require a fee of 2.9% + 25 cents (estimated).
● Money deposited into the system (Wallet) can be used for anything available in Pushcoin, not just lunches.
● Positive balances are commonly left in the Wallet and will roll over from year to year. This will become increasingly relevant as we move more and more transactions into Pushcoin.
● Only EChecks, credit cards, and cash will be accepted--paper checks will not be accepted.
● Each student will have a separate balance, not shared across families as is now the case.
Old Business: Expansion Options Update:
At a previous Board meeting, Mr. Kirkus recommended that the District asked Tria Architecture to provide plans detailing the District's most viable building expansion options. Mr. Kirkus updated the Board, explaining that Tria has not yet been tasked with this work because information became available suggesting the District had commissioned similar work in previous years with another architecture firm. We are working to gather that information before using additional resources in this area.
Barbara Fricilone - receptionist at district office - June 30, 2020
Cynthia Bickelman - 2nd grade teacher at Young School - eff. the end of the 2022-2023 school year
Wendy Pangrazio - 6th grade teacher at Hadley Middle School - eff. the end of the 2022-2023 school year
Next School Board Meeting is Tuesday, January 22, 2019, at 7:00 P.M.