At its Jan. 19 meeting, the O’Fallon Township High School Board of Eduction voted to move forward with lifting the current restriction on the number of allowable online courses students can take throughout the year, including summer.
BOE President Lynda Cozad proposed that, with guidance and principal approval of some kind, students should be allowed to take however many course they wanted — either over the summer and/or during the school year. The goal is to help accommodate students who are “doubling up” on honors-level courses.
OTHS is going into its third year of virtual learning offered. Each completed virtual class counts on a student’s transcript as half of a credit.
During the summer, the current policy limits (page 33-34 of student handbook) students to one online course credit. During the school year, the current policy dictates a two-credit limit.
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BOE member Donna Johnson, who has a child attending in the district, told said she had concerns with limiting students’ options for learning.
“If we are going to encourage students to double up on classes, then I think this would be a good time to look at it — increasing that one credit (limit),” Johnson said.
Currently, OTHS does not have any virtual classes offered itself. Such classes may be taken through a junior college or some other entity.
Superintendent Dr. Darcy Benway said the limit was originally put in place to ensure students wouldn’t be taking courses online when they could be enrolled in the same classes at OTHS during the school year.
“If it’s a course that’s offered here, our real hope is that the student would opt to take it here, because we believe our teachers do a better job than any virtual course could ever do,” she said.
Johnson said she understood the reasoning, but doesn’t think it should be done that way, especially over the summer.
In other business, Howard Crouse, senior analytics adviser with PMA Financial Network, presented an update to his five-year financial projection report to the BOE.
The estimated assessed value (EAV) of the district increased in 2016 by 0.75 percent, which is a preliminary number, minus the estimate for the veteran exemptions, but he expects EAV to increase about 2 percent annually.
“One percent generates about $160,000 of operating funds for a year, so we are really looking forward to that 2 percent,” Crouse said.
Crouse reported that the final fiscal year categorical payment from the state was disbursed to the district just before the end of the calendar year.
“The likelihood that you’re going to get even three payments for (fiscal year 2017) is looking dimmer, unless there is some kind of grand bargain from the state of Illinois legislative level. I anticipate you’ll get one, maybe two, but a third payment is questionable at this time,” Crouse said.
Crouse said he expects the district’s state revenue to be in the ball park of about $1 million, but that’s if a tax freeze isn’t applied for the next two years, which legislators have discussed.
“All of my districts downstate look very much like yours or look worse,” Crouse told the board.
Crouse said with 45 districts as clients, 35 of those are downstate, and at least half of those are in worse shape than District 203.
“One of my clients describes the situation as the person next to you trying to outrun the bear,” he said. “At some point, the state — hopefully — will get its act together and funding mechanisms for the state will be more appropriate to the current times than they are.”
The board also approved a first-reading allowing Benway to move forward with contractual negotiations with the Collonade Senior Living facility, which is located near the school at 700 Weber Road, to rent 18 OTHS parking spaces during non-school days and in the summer.
“Again right now I’m just considering a recommendation for you to be thrown around is an annual charge of $5,000, and they would get the use of the 18 spaces identified on the 180 school days, and they would have access to the parking lot to use as many spaces as they so choose for non-school days,” Benway said.
Benway continued, “We had to change the policy, or consider changing the policy language because the current policy language does not allow any kind of facility use during school hours.”
Collonade will pay $5,000 for the spaces. The funds will be earmarked for the parking lot maintenance. Benway said the contract will also require Colonnade staff using the spaces to undergo background checks and use stickers to identify them, the same as OTHS staff does, as well as use non-school vehicles.
“Students pay for the use of spaces, too ($100/space), and it’s seemed reasonable, because we aren’t trying to bleed a community facility,” Benway said.
The BOE will vote on the policy change at the next meeting Thursday, Feb. 16.
O’Fallon CCSD 90
The O’Fallon Community Consolidated School District 90 Board of Education met Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Superintendent Carrie Hruby said the numerous updates to policies were up for review, not final action, but she anticipates the BOE to vote on them at the 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 BOE meeting.
“While there are a lot of them, most of them are pretty self explanatory, and don’t really have much change other than verbiage being cleaned up and updated, as we do every few years anyway,” Hruby noted.
Shiloh School District 85
The Shiloh School District 85 BOE met at the Shiloh Middle School library Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Superintendent Dale Sauer reported to the BOE that recently an HVAC unit went out in the Shiloh Elementary gym because the furnace burner had deteriorated. Due to the nature of the emergency, he said he worked with architects and the facilities committee to go out for bids and received an approval from the Illinois State Board of Education to use money from the Health and Safety fund instead of from the Operations and Maintenance or Capital Projects funds for a total cost of about $20,000.
Central 104 Board
The Central School District 104 BOE met Monday, Jan. 9 at Joseph Arthur Middle School for a “very brief” meeting, according to John Bute, District 104 superintendent.
Bute told the board he was putting together a bid package for busing.
O’Fallon-Shiloh school districts including: Shiloh 85, O’Fallon 90, Central 104 and O’Fallon Township High School (OTHS) 203, have a cooperative transportation agreement. Central 104 houses the buses for all four districts at the Joseph Arthur Middle School (JAMS) campus.
“We have been in a cooperative for a number of years and plan to continue to be. Every three years we create a bid package, and go to the marketplace to ensure we are getting the best transportation price. I am creating that bid package now,” Bute said.
The BOE communications committee also discussed the possibility of implementing a new district director of technology position, and as a result, a deficit reduction was considered and the potential reduction in force due to it.
If you have school board news or an education tip email reporter Robyn L. Kirsch at email@example.com