The Jasper County Board of Education held a regularly scheduled meeting on March 16. Board members present included: Mr. Jon Fulton, Mrs. Holly Farley, Mr. Gordon Millsap, Mrs. Melissa Stanley, and Mr. Rob Street. Board members absent include: Mr. Jerry L. Jed Earnest and Mrs. Mandy Rieman.
All votes are considered unanimous unless otherwise stated.
The agenda was amended to move the approval of a new three year lease agreement with the 4THEKIDS LLC organization for high school soccer out of the consent agenda. The agenda was adopted as presented.
In Superintendent’s Reports, Andy Johnson spoke stating, “I guess I will start off bad and get good. The bad part that I want to report is the State of Illinois owes us $713,026.23 for this current school year’s budget. So when you take a look, or maybe come in if you are bored this summer and sit down with me while I try to figure out what our budget is going to be like next year when we’re not getting our payments from the State. The good side of that is, we did receive all of our money from last year and some of it came as late as December 30, so we can’t put it back in the year before’s budget just so you know how budgets work. That’s the bad news. The good news is we are still functioning without the money, so thank you to everybody else. Going to the good side though, I wanted to open this meeting up with compliments surrounding the Aaron Thomas speaker we had in town this past week. Aaron Thomas was here, did a great job, met with our students had a presentation, we have some students in the front row shaking their heads already, I have heard a lot of that this week. Aaron Thomas spoke to our students, junior high and high school students. Our students were phenomenal I got a chance to get over there for a few minutes while he was speaking, our kids were attentive, our kids were respectful, he bragged about them; that’s got to make us feel good about what we are doing in this community, so I thank you those of you that are here from the community, I thank you kids for that, also I want to throw out a thank you to Travis who back in the fall brought this to my attention as he had seen and heard Aaron down in Flora and he said I really think this would be great for our district. Through some legwork Travis helped me get him to town, Beth and the high school obviously accommodated us to be there in the auditorium. Thanks for your help and getting all that arranged, I know some things had to be moved so we could get Aaron Thomas in there.” He then opened up the option for public comments.
Lanette Huddleston spoke about how she wanted to go to the town, and she believes we can relate so well because it sounds like Newton. Rob Street spoke about if the opportunity arises to have him back we need to fill the auditorium. He stated he has attended a lot of leadership seminars, and that one is the best by far. Beth Probst commented the high schoolers are still talking about the program a couple of days later and kids are asking if he could come back again.
Jon then asked for another amendment to the agenda. Citing the agenda, he requested to amend the agenda to bring forward the resolution to censure a board member since the board member was not present. He stated “It appears and we have had confirmation that Mr. Earnest is not coming to the board meeting tonight,” Jon states.
“The following is read by me, but on advice from our attorney. The next agenda item to be considered is the resolution to censure Board member Earnest. Prior to tonight’s meeting, Board member Earnest was notified that this resolution would be considered tonight and that he would be afforded an opportunity to respond to the allegations prior to the board voting on the resolution. Unfortunately it seems Mr. Earnest was unable to attend the meeting this evening. Accordingly, based upon the advice of the District’s legal counsel I am asking the board to pass over this item tonight and place it on the agenda for the April board meeting for the following reasons. First, Mr. Earnest should have the opportunity to respond to the resolution before it is voted on by the board. Second, Mr. Earnest should be present to hear the resolution read in public, if it is indeed approved by the board. If the board agrees to remove the resolution to censure for tonight’s meeting and move it to the April 20, 2017 meeting we will send another letter to Mr. Earnest notifying him of such and inviting him again to attend and respond to the resolution on April 20. At this time, I would like to make a motion to remove item 8 letter I approval of resolution to censure a board member and will move it to the April 20, 2017 board meeting.”
Robyn Snearley spoke stating, “Good Evening, Superintendent Johnson and Jasper Unit 1 Board. My Name is Robyn Snearly, I am a Jasper County Citizen, a taxpayer and a voter, a board member of the Newton Community Athletic Boosters and a strong and proud supporter of the kids in this community and tonight, I am here to talk about this community and what it means to me.
I was not born and raised in Jasper County, I was born and raised in Clinton County went to Mater Dei high school, but I do feel that my roots run deep here. I raised all three of my children here, all NCHS graduates. My oldest is proudly serving in the military he’s up in Chicago right now. My daughter and my youngest son both went to college on athletic scholarships. Thank you Jackie and thank you Jason. I am still so grateful to the teachers and coaches and volunteers that my children have had the privilege to have been mentored under. It was my responsibility as a parent to participate in that process. I chose to attend their events, I chose to work their fundraisers, i chose to encourage their coaches and I am still grateful for the opportunities they have been afforded through their hard work and the hard work of those that believed in them.
My children are fine young adults of whom I am very proud, but I also would like for you to know that my job never stopped when they graduated. I continued to volunteer whenever asked, I continued to help fund programs that could not be funded through the unit, I continued to participate with the Athletic Boosters, i just continued to help in any way possible. Why? Because I am a part of this community and I care about not just my children, but all the kids here in Jasper County. I care about my community.
On the morning of November 4th, 2016 I woke up to what i thought had to have been the end of my life. I had never felt pain like that before. i was eventually airlifted to St. John's in Springfield, IL and diagnosed with an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is a type of stroke caused by a brain bleed. The only way to continue to live was with surgery. Immediately. There were no options for me at that point. I am lucky to be here, very lucky, but, I am not here to talk about my health.
A few weeks ago I was released back to work. I have a job i love. I get to see the kids in our community every day. I am starting to feel like I was a part of things again. I am getting back to why I am here, why I was chosen to survive. To wife, To mother, To be a good employee, to be a good citizen,and most importantly, to help the kids in Jasper County. It was not long after returning to work that the Athletic Booster Board came to me to let me know that Jasper Unit 1 Board member, Jed Earnest had filed a complaint against the Athletic Boosters because i was the recipient of the proceeds of a 5050 drawing that was held at the last playoff football game of the season. Mr. Earnest, I did not ask for that money. I am grateful. It was needed and used for a life saving medication that I needed at the time and the hospital would not give it to me unless they were paid. But, if you for one moment are implying that the money was misused in any way. You sir, do not understand what it is to be a part of this community.
Pope John Paul the Second was quoted as saying "A community needs a soul if it is to become a true home for human beings, we, the people must give it that soul"
Mr. Earnest, Please let those words sink in. I do not think you have yet found your place in this community. It is time for you to step down. I join the community in their continual call for your resignation from the Jasper Unit 1 School Board.
To be part of this community and especially the school board, I agree with the quote given...... you must give of your soul.” You sir have not given yours yet.”
She also offered the board the opportunity to read an article about her diagnosis and treatment.
Kristie Taylor then spoke stating, “Hello my name is Kristie Taylor and I’ve lived in Newton for about three years. I have a daughter who graduated from high school from here and a son who is a junior who plays football here and a seventh grader. When we lived here and my husband had a stroke at 35 and he did not live as she’s talking about and I’m on disability which is unfortunate but I was on disability before we moved here. But without the Boosters Club our family would have not made it last year. I think it is really, really important to express that. Not only did they just not take care of like the boys they took care of the whole family including the clothes on my back right now as we speak, to them having jackets to wear, tennis shoes, versus and my daughter who is in college now, she did graduate from Newton, but she is in college now. Since he died around Christmas and it was so sudden they (community members organized by the Booster Club) came in with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, elves, and they had everything wrapped up from body soap to anything you could physically and mentally need brought to our home and it is so important for me to tell you how much that this is such an amazing program, it really is and it’s not I just don’t want anybody to think I am selfish or any reason. It was nothing that I expected, I had no idea that it was going to happen it was just a great, it wasn’t just the school it was the whole community came together, you know and it’s not just the clothes, I know that they have food in their stomach and their bellies were full. My kids it’s really helped them. My daughters through college, my son gets through, they have been through a traumatic experience and with me always in and out of the hospital it’s very hard, but I am very happy to be in this community and I just want you to how important it is for everybody to stick together because I came from Effingham and I’m sorry but nobody did that and I am so blessed to be here.
Suzi Steber was asked if she wanted to go next. She stated, “Actually Mr. Fulton my comments are for Mr. Earnest so if you would transfer me being on the agenda this month to next month or whenever he decides to return, show up and do his job I would be happy with that. “
Betty Yaw then spoke stating, “ I’m Betty Yaw and I use to work for this District for 23 years. I love my job, I love the kids. I love them boys standing out there, these girls here and that’s one thing about Mr. Earnest I can’t stand. Our kids is what we need to worry about. This jerk dragging out is ridiculous. If he’s got a problem then he needs to step down and if he can’t step down then it’s time we somehow get him out. I wish we could have a special election and we could vote him out. This idea that we can’t get him out that not right. He’s hurting our kids, our community, our teachers. We’ve got wonderful teachers, the best. I’ve worked with them. They care about our kids. We don’t need someone like him on the board. What we need is to go back to people that care about the kids and if we can’t get him then he needs to know nothing about what’s going on. He should be left out in the cold. That’s how I feel, I just think that this guy has went too far. Our kids are getting hurt by this. People’s talking in the community. They are talking in communities around us and that’s not good and this isn’t showing the kids how you are suppose to be a responsible adult and I think someone needs to make him accountable for this. Whether he is too chicken to come tonight, I don’t know but to me it shows that he don’t even believe in what he’s doing. Mr Johnson, I want to thank you for coming to our community we was in a bad state when you came. It is a lot better. Don’t let all this crap that is going on by him get you discouraged because we are very lucky to have you. We are lucky to have teachers, we are lucky to have kids like we got, a principal like we got. Just don’t let one person determine anything you do because it’s the rest of us that love you. I wish I was still out here. I miss everything, the kids, the teachers, but I worry about the kids. I always will, that was always my number one priority above anything else. I didn’t always go by the rules, I gave them the hugs, and when they was down I hugged them and told them how to get up and I know a lot of people told me I shouldn’t do that but that’s part of being a kid you have to have someone you can go to and now we got this guy wanting to ruin it all and that’s not right I don’t want to see our kids drug down by someone. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Andy Johnson states, “I want to comment for a minute, I think it’s ok if I comment. First of all thank you, but I’m with you these are the stories that I hear every day in this week. Kristie. That’s why this community is what it is. Because of the things that happen with you, that have surrounded you, happen a lot more around you than people know. Alright, and I want to be a part of that and that’s why we are moving here. Not because of the problems, problems are everywhere. We are going to make the most of what we can do and move forward. The biggest thing that you said tonight that I stand behind is, ‘It’s about the kids’. Ok, everything we do under my leadership and, these guys can vote me off tonight if they want to, but as long as I am here it’s about the kids. It’s what we try to do everyday with our administrators, with our teachers, our cooks, our custodians, our bus drivers, you name it. Secondly, they are still there, you didn’t have to leave them.” Betty states, “Oh yeah, I can’t hardly walk very good and some days I don’t walk.” Andy replies, “I think Beth would let you come out and visit them.” Beth states, “Absolutely! Anytime!” Andy states, “I have heard lots of good things about you so thanks for what you have done for our kids over the years.” Betty replies, “Well I love them, they are good kids and we should be a very proud community of our kids, our teachers, our principal. She is one in a million.”
Mrs. Probst introduced the eight Illinois State Scholars. Stacy Moore from Peoples State Bank thanked the board and administration for allowing the bank to be a part of the recognition and stated “the bank will continue to support the Booster Club, the school, the kids and all those things.” While Mrs. Probst introduced the Scholars, Mr. Moore presented them with a Silver Eagle coin. State Scholars present were Faron Bartens, Mitch Bierman, Ben Britton, Kristen Hardiek, Grace Hartrich, Mitch Jansen, Ariel Richards and Timothy Weber.
The consent agenda was approved consisting of: Approval of Regular and Closed Session Minutes
Approval of Financial Reports including Balance Sheet, Bills and Payroll, Approval of SouthEast Purchasing cooperative Intergovernmental Agreement, Approval for Kristie Finley to leave a leave of absence for the first eight weeks of the 2017-2018 school year, she will return October 2. Approval for Erica McNeely to take a leave of absence for the start of the 2017-2018 school year until September 25, 2017, Approval for Maria Zumbahlen to take a leave of absence from the approximate dates of July 5, 2017 to October 2, 2017, Acceptance of donations –$100 from Susan Shull for the JCJH Reading Rocks Program and $700 from the Masonic Lodge for the Scholastic Bowl team, Approval of volunteers –Fayth Bushue JCJH Volunteer Track and Mitch Mammoser NCHS/JCJH Volunteer Track Coach. We have been awarded the FY17 School District Grant award in the amount of $770.97, this is based on the FY16 district housing count of 1194 students that receive library services from our district’s grant eligible attendance centers, destruction of Closed Session Recordings.
Approval to extend 4THEKIDS, LLC organization for high school soccer from 2017, 2018 and 2019. Holly Farley abstained from the vote as she is part of the LLC organization.
For the month’s positive news and communication presented to the board in their packet see separate article.
The Board was informed of 11 FOIA requests since the last board meeting. The District website now provides this information. The cost to the district will be an estimate as it does not count the hours spent by the district IT director, secretary, bookkeeper and superintendent. Approval of the 2016-2017 Amended School Calendar showing one snow day. A final calendar will be presented in May. Approval of Summer Maintenance Plan 2017. Approval of 2017 mowing bid to Griffith’s Lawn Care for $16,000 this year. Approval to rehire all district administrators for the 2017-2018 school year. Approval to bid a lease to buy bus program. Discuss a potential plan to include the District in a website agreement with several local governmental agencies to help promote our county. There will be a minimal cost but all entities are looking into splitting the cost. Approval the IHSA renewal for the 2017-2018 school term.
Accept the first reading of 2.80-E Board member Code of Conduct.
The Board entered into Closed Session at 7:43 p.m. for 5ILCS 120/2 ( c ) (1) the purposes defined in the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees; 5ILCS 120/2 ( c) (2) – to consider collective negotiation matters between the District and its employees; 5ILCS 120/2 ( c ) (9) matters of student discipline and 5ILCS 120/2 ( c) (11) – to discuss matters of possible or pending litigation. The Board entered into Open Session at 8:09 p.m.
Acceptance of the resignation of Newton Elementary 6th grade teacher, Adrienne Roberts the end of the 2016-17 school year and Whitney Ritchhart as Junior High Girls Basketball Assistant Coach effective now.
Approval of the employment of John Lidy for the vocational teacher at Newton Community High School beginning the 2017-2018 school year.
Approval of the transfer of Rebecca Holkenbrink from NE/SME Counselor Position to NCHS Guidance Counselor Position and the transfer of Jordan Michels from NE Physical Education to JCJH Physical Education both effective the 2017-2018 school year.
Approval of a year long leave of absence effective the 2017-2018 school year for Newton Elementary 6th grade teacher, Pam Faller.
Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 8:11 p.m. The next scheduled Board of Education meeting will be held on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at the Board of Education Office at 6:30 p.m.