The Harrisburg School Board meeting Tuesday night adjourned at approximately 11 p.m. due to a clogged agenda that included an extended executive session to decide teacher transfers and a 30 minute financial overview presented by School Superintendent Dennis Smith.
Early in the board meeting of the Harrisburg Community Unit School District No. 3, during the public comments portion of the meeting, local businessman Rod Wallace gave his opinion of why the referendum to fund a new high school was voted down.
"The wording in the referendum was vague at best, and most definitely left open ended the opportunity to tax the landowners at whatever rate of increase the school district decided. This was unacceptable to me as well as many tax payers in the district, as was obvious by the outcome of the vote. Many folks are leaving the county because of the unfair tax burden that is being placed on them. According to my tax bill the school district is responsible for 44 percent of the taxes being levied on the property owners," said Wallace.
"Loss of population is just beginning to affect the sales taxes collected in the county.
As I understand it, there was a decline in sales in Saline County which resulted in less sales tax collected in 2012. As the population decline continues, the amount of sales taxes collected will continue to erode as well," he said.
Wallace buttressed his claims with examples of lower tax rates in surrounding counties and homeowners who are being highly taxed.
He concluded his presentation by stating that he was not intimidated by Smith and referenced a Facebook exchange with Smith in which Smith said he had a son who is an excellent lawyer.
Wallace departed the meeting after his presentation.
Smith later said he wished Wallace had stayed because he had a response to his comments.
CPA Matthew Businaro reviewed the 2011-12 budget concluding that two material findings were nothing more than errors in accounting and were not negative.
The middle school quilt group made a presentation.
Board President Dean West reported that they had a meeting with Carrier Mills High School to discuss consolidation of the two schools in order to construct a new high school. West said that Carrier Mills agreed to consider the proposal but DeNeal said he concluded that "it would not be a good idea. I think we would spend more money than we would take in."
Board member Michelle Way questioned the legality of the meeting under the open meetings laws. The Board had not been consulted about whether to meet with Carrier Mills. West said that the meeting included only two board members and was therefore not a violation. Way said she still believed that the board should have been informed.
Page 2 of 3 - Superintendent Smith gave a 30 minute overview of the board's financial situation and concluded that "we are dependent on state aid. Up in Chicago they think that we are getting a free ride down here. We would be starting the next school year with $3 million in the bank were it not for proration of state aid." He reported that the board will start the next school with $960,422 in the bank after proration.
"Next year the gap is going to continue to grow. I don't think it would be responsible education for us to continue to try to keep up with what the state is doing to us. I think we may have to go the European Model of schools (no frills). You can't keep up with what is happening to us. They are just not giving us the state aid."
CPA Tim King outlined a number of bond options that could implemented if the board went ahead with its plans to build a new high school.
"If ever there was a building that could be condemned (under existing finance laws) it would be this building," KIng said.
In regards to financing a new high school board member Molly Dearing said, "I don't think it would prudent to pledge money that we may not have."
President Dean West said, "Are we ready to drop the idea of new building?"
Dearing said, "I thought we already were in the remodel phase."
The board then heard from school architect Ed Kerkhover on the progress and scope of the repairs to the old high school.
Kerhover said the decision of how to structure the school's makeover had to be made.
"I am right now trying to stop the water from getting into the school," he said.
Kerkhover said he thought the overall project should be broken up into parts that can be bid separately.
He said the project consisted of:
n Tuckpointing the school and football field
n replacing windows
n replacing the roof on the library
n addressing the water in the basement
n renovating the electrical system
Under new business the board:
Approved membership in IHSA and IASB;
Awarded bids for bakery, dairy, trash, pest control, food and supplies;
Accepted Banterra Bank for banking services;
Accepted bids for tuckpointing;
Eliminated two positions: High School Guidance, West Side Media.
The Board then went into executive session to decide personnel matters.
The Harrisburg School Board approved the following resignations of the following at Tuesday's regular meeting:
Richelle Molinarolo — three hour cook
Valerie Pilcher — Middle School Scholar Bowl
Brandon Henshaw — High School Boys Basketball
Page 3 of 3 - Richard Dwyer — High School Freshman Boys Basketball
Mike Boglino — Assistant MS Drama
Julie Beal-HS — Cheerleading (football)
Sherri Casteel — EOC Aide (Brownsville)
KT Nelson — HHS Softball
Angie Shires — Records Nurse
The Board approved the employment of the following:
Greg Langley — HHS Athletic Director (2014-15)
Jenny Vise — HHS Summer School Instructor
Jerica Howson — HMS cheerlieading
Richard Dwyer — HHS Assistant Boys Basketball
Josh Allen — HHS Freshman Boys Basketball
Michelle Hughes — Summer Food Service Head Cook
Machelle Mays — Summer Food Service Program (supervisor/monitor/cleaning)
2.5 hour cooks rotating for the summer: Theresa Hunt, Lisa Sheldon, Shelby Adams, Teri Reynolds, Dusti Agin, and Connie Owens.
The Board approved the following as Volunteer Coaches:
Football — Steve Vinyard and Gabe Schimp
Boys Basketball — Brandon Henshaw, Erik Griffin, Dr. Robert Hodson
Cross Country — James Herren
Girl's Track — Heather Cox, James Herren, Borke Harbison
Baseball — Al Way
Boy's Track — Chris Berry, Steve Vinyard
Wrestling — Whipper Johnson
Girl's Basketball — Jacob Morse
Softball — Victoria Beasley, Amanda Stone
Golf — Marie Adams
Bowling — Doug Cottom , Barry McDermott
The Board approved the involuntary transfers of:
Brenda Ziegler and Sherri Fox to Media/Technology Coordinators
Glenn McKinstry from HS Guidance to MS eighth grade Social Studies
Mike Boglino from Westside Media to MS Technology Exploratory
Stacy Thompson from seventh grade Science to Connections Exploratory
Brandon Phillips from sixth grade Language Arts to seventh grade Science
Machelle Amelunke from Connections to Third Grade
Lisa Ozment from MS ISAT Prep to sixth grade Language Arts
John Hurd from full time Assistant Principal at East Side to District Special Education Coordinator
Cindy Potter from full time Assistant Principal at West Side to full time Assistant West/East Side
The Board approved the administrative assignments of:
Scott Dewar from West Side/East Side Principal to East Side (only) Principal
Kim Williams from Special Education Coordinator to West Side Principal
The Board approved the dismissal of:
Mark Golish head custodian