Thursday, May 25, 2017 - Updated: 12:05 PM
• District seeks letters of interest
The agenda was long as board members, as well as local residents, gathered for the May 22 Joppa-Maple Grove monthly school board meeting.
During the meeting, it was announced board member John McCuan had submitted a letter of resignation, effective April 30. The board expressed their appreciation of McCuan’s service to the students, taxpayers and administration/staff. The board is currently accepting letters of interest to those wishing to fill the seat. See additional information in this week’s Planet.
Under public comment, several citizens spoke including Ben Schmidt, who polled the board about its opinion on whether the board would ever set a limit on increasing the taxes in the district. All board members present agreed that at some point, if the economy does not change, a limit would be set.
Schmidt had a comparison rate between J-MG and Unit One of the total revenue received from 2012 through 2016. “In this time period, Joppa’s increased by $625,000, while Unit One had an increase of $600,000. Unit One has more students and more buildings to maintain, but Joppa had more revenue on their books,” said Schmidt. “As taxpayers, you are suffocating us. What are you going to do with the money you have in reserves?”
Schmidt also questioned the board about the status of the Lafarge tax assessment protest. Superintendent Bill Biggerstaff and Board President Stacey Reames both explained the litigation is still ongoing with Lafarge appealing to the state’s Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB). The PTAB only considers appeals after decisions from County Boards of Review. Lafarge was assessed at $7.4 million EAV, with a total assessed value of $22.3 million.
Junior Krueger also came before the board to voice his concerns about higher taxes, stating the board should do some “belt tightening.” Krueger added, “The board’s first loyalty should be with the students; however, they also need to consider the residents and businesses of the district. In Massac County, we help each other out. We use the same doctors, groceries, worship houses, fire departments and Head Start. We need to start thinking about consolidating. We need to have a feasibility study and put our students first.”
Under his Principal’s Report, Landon Sommer gave a long list of successes and events that had occurred throughout the month including the Maple Grove Book Fair, Family Reading Night and Spring Music Concert. “The high school choir did a great job and these choir members should be commended. They gathered every Tuesday and Thursday morning this semester to practice and also received high school credit,” said Sommer. The choir also performed at several local nursing homes.
During Joppa’s Award Night, numerous students were recognized. Zach Walquist was awarded a laptop computer for having perfect attendance. Scholarships were given to: Hannah Stephens, $250 American Red Cross Scholarship; Hunter Johnson, Alexis Leonard and Hannah Mitchel, John Patrick Schmidt Memorial Scholarship; Alyssa Castleman, Harley Davidson Scholarship; Hannah Mitchell, Alexis Leonard, Hannah Stephens and Alyssa Castleman, Joppa Civic Group Scholarships; and Hannah Stephens, Hannah Mitchell, Hailey Kendall, Hunter Johnson, Alyssa Castleman and Alexis Leonard, Shawnee Community College Scholarships.
Sommer spoke to the board about the Apex online program the district is wishing to provide for the upcoming school year. Through the program, the district will be able to provide a wider choice of course electives such as foreign language and also provide credit recovery for those students needing additional help. Sommer added the Apex program is $1000 cheaper than the University of Kansas virtual program the district used this year.
“Massac Unit One students will no longer be taking auto body classes at Joppa,” said Sommer. “However, Vienna High School will be sending students to the class.” Massac will also not allow Joppa students to participate in the football and tennis programs as well as the CNA program.
Sommer did inform the board about the intergovernmental agreement between Joppa-Maple Grove and Century School District to provide music classes at both districts. “Next year, we will be offering music appreciation in the mornings at the high school and general music at the Maple Grove, while in the afternoon, the teacher will be at Century High School offering music appreciation and band,” stated Sommer.
Biggerstaff’s report centered around repairs and improvements to both school buildings, stating, “Associate Superintendent Bill Rogers, Mr. Sommer and I recently done a walk around with the custodial staff to help determine some of the needs for this coming summer and also going into net year. We would like to complete the capping of the large bleachers in the high school gym and upgrade both of the dressing rooms at the high school.”
Other projects include replacing two water fountains at the high school; resolving the water drainage problems behind the greenhouse at the high school; replacing the toilet stalls and doors in the high school boys restroom; and repairing the grease trap and replacing the floor around the dishwashing area in the high school kitchen.
Projects at Maple Grove would be: upgrading the sewer system; repairing the roof flashing on the gym roof and paint the medal deck underneath; replacing exterior doors; and replacing one air conditioning unit in the music room.
“Over the years, the board has been careful not to overspend on funds, such as building maintenance, but these aging facilities require upkeep and we need to address several issues,” said Biggerstaff.
In other action, the board:
• Approved all consent agenda items which included approval of computer service contract with Craig McClellan; approval of the high school’s state FFA trip to Springfield; and approval to abolish working cash fund and transfer balance to educational fund, effective June 30.
• Approved the employment of coaching positions for fiscal year 2018.
• Hired/recalled non-certified positions for the 2017-18 school years for classroom reductions and/or reading/math intervention.
• Approved intergovernmental agreement with Century School District for a music teacher’s position.
• Approved board member’s travel expenses to the 2017 Illinois Joint Annual Conference in November.
• Approved the employment of Tyler Mitchell for teaching/coaching position.
• Approved the employment of Les Little for additional custodial personnel for the summer.
• Approved the bid from ICI of Paducah for air conditioning upgrade at Maple Grove.
• Tabled the bid decision for replacement of exterior doors at Maple Grove; and resurfacing of parking lots at Maple Grove and Joppa Junior/Senior High School.
• And, tabled the purchase of gym bleachers and also replacement of gym floor at Maple Grove School.