J-MG approves employment agreements

By Linda Kennedy

Employment agreements for Bill Biggerstaff, district administrator, and Bill Rogers, interim superintendent, were voted on at Monday’s Joppa-Maple Grove (J-MG) school board meeting.

After coming out of executive session, the board agreed to a:

• One-year contract for 2017-18 with Biggerstaff, who will once again be named superintendent of the district after Illinois Senate Bill 2912 was passed and Biggerstaff completed all the certification forms.

SB 2912, which was recently signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, is aimed at alleviating the state’s teacher/administrators shortage by making it easier for out-of-state educators to transfer their licenses to Illinois.

Biggerstaff has a 99-year superintendent certification from Missouri.

• And, a one-year contract for 2017-18 with Associate Superintendent Bill Rogers.  

Stacey Reames, board president, reminded the board the district was getting two veteran administrators for the price of one, as the two administrators were splitting the salary.

All board members, except for Charles Johnson and John McCuan who voted no, agreed to Rogers and Biggerstaff  employment agreement.  

Another highlight of the meeting was the intergovernmental agreement with Goreville School District to once again provide dual credit classes English 111 and 112.   The teacher will be housed at Goreville High School with a virtual classroom offered at Joppa High School.

Also discussed was the possibility of an intergovernmental agreement with Century School District to provide a music teacher.  “Our current music teacher is retired and agreed to teach on a short-term basis,” explained Principal Landon Sommer.  “By federal guidelines, we must provide a music program to the elementary students, and Century would like to discuss the possibility of sharing a teacher.”

Reames said an agreement would be brought to the board at the March meeting.

Missed school days were discussed under the Superintendent’s Report.  Biggerstaff was absent at the Monday meeting, but Rogers told the board a total of two days had been missed, with one being used as an emergency day due to a police manhunt on Sept. 6 and the other was a snow day on Jan. 13.  As of now, the last day for student attendance will be Tuesday, May 23.

Rogers also reported the administrators from the Regional Office of Education (ROE) 21 visited the district on Feb. 22 to complete their annual Health, Life, Safety inspection at the elementary and high schools.  “Paul Oldani from ROE and the state fire marshal were very complimentary of our schools,” explained Rogers.  “We would like to thank our maintenance and custodial staff for getting the buildings ready for inspection.”

Under the Principal’s Report, Sommer updated the board on several recent events the students attended, including four WYSE team students — Adam Ragsdale, Joseph Smith, Mason Stewart and Justin Cohoon — all placing in the regional WYSE competition at Shawnee Community College.  These students, along with the team, which placed third overall, will advance to the WYSE sectionals at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in March.

Sommer stated that the FFA varsity team placed third in parliamentary procedures, and Tabatha Dummitt received third place in chairperson.

The high school cafeteria staff was recently recognized through the Illinois Nutrition Education Program’s Smarter Lunchrooms in Illinois.  School lunchrooms are rated on various categories from cleanliness to presentation of food provided to the students.    Lacey Barnhill and her staff increased their score from 46 last year to 60 this year, with the stage average being 41.

Sommer spoke to the board about the recent lockdown devices that were scheduled to be installed at both school buildings at no cost to the district thanks to donations from the community.  “As of right now, that project is on hold temporarily due to the devices not being up to state fire code.”

There will be a noon dismissal Friday, March 3 for students.  Teachers and staff will have ALICE training once again in the afternoon provided by the Illinois State Police. ALICE training is an active shooter civilian response-training program.

Sommer announced upcoming testing dates:  PARCC testing window for seventh and eighth grade students, March 6 through April 21; SAT testing for high school students, April 15; DLM testing for certain students, third through eighth and 11th graders, March 15 through May 1; and the Illinois Science Assessment Test, fifth, sixth and biology I students, during April.

Graduation dates were also set at Monday’s meeting:  high school, Friday, May 19; and junior high, Tuesday, May 23.

At the February monthly meeting, Sommer was recognized by Reames for being selected as the Best Principal by the Metropolis Planet’s 2017 Reader’s Choice Award.  “We are very appreciative of the work you do and proud that our community also recognizes it too,” said Reames.  “On behalf of the board, way to go.”

Reader’s Choice also named Kathey Walquist as Best Teacher and Maple Grove Elementary School as Best School.

In other action, the board:

• Approved the holiday waiver resolution for 2017-18 school year to attend school on Lincoln’s Birthday and Pulaski Day.

• And amended the 2016-17 school calendar and approved the 2017-18 school calendar, with first day of classes beginning Monday, Aug. 14.