The Fieldcrest Board of Education at their monthly meeting Wednesday night approved the hiring of a search firm to help hire a new superintendent to replace Superintendent Dr Dan Oakley who is retiring on December 31, 2019. The goal is to hire someone by July 1, 2019 who can work with Dr. Oakley until his departure. The fee charged by the search firm, IASB, is $7900.
During the meeting the board listened to Dr. Donna McCaw an independent consultant. She highly recommended the board hire someone to replace Dr. Oakley instead of hiring an interim superintendent. She said interim's get $600 a day and don't make any decision and the school loses half a school year from someone doing nothing. She said the board should look for someone who made a difference at the school they were employed. She said too many superintendents are concerned about the title and the money instead of job itself. She advised the board to determine which is the most important area of expertise required of the new superintendent whether it be finances or curriculum, etc. and then look for someone who has that type of background.
Ms. McCaw advised not to interview out-of-state candidates as they will be overwhelmed by the politics of Illinois. She said she would be willing to help the school in its selection process during the interviews and would do it free of charge.
Stephen Adams of PMA, a municipal advisory firm, gave a presentation to the board on advising them during the sale of bonds to finance the new school construction. Mr. Adams says his firm will make sure the school's underwriter for the issuance of bonds are being competitive and that the school is getting the best rate possible. He said underwriters tend to favor the investor rather than the issuer and his firm can save the school a lot of money by making sure they are getting the best rate. He said his firm will also work with the school in keeping its bond rating up through the surveillance process. The fee for this service would be $54,000.
Dr. Oakley recommended the board consider hiring PMA to aid the board during the bond issuance, especially since he will be leaving at the end of 2019 and his replacement will have some assistance in going through the sale of the bonds. The board will vote on hiring PMA at the next board meeting in July.
Fieldcrest's new Director of Technology, Matthew Wendling told the board the school's infrastructure needs to be upgraded with new wiring for the computers. He said rewiring will begin in the primary and intermdiate schools in Minonk and Toluca since the high school and middle school may not be around much longer. He said there is no problem with the fiber optic network into the school buildings. It is the old wiring in the buildings that need to be replaced.
The incoming Director of Buildings, Ron Kreiser, told the board he is trying to get all buildings on a maintenance program so that maintenance does not become an issue in the future. He is changing the way supplies are being ordered. He wants to reduce the number of supply deliveries from 5 or 6 a year to just a couple of times. He also wants to install a work order system for getting things fixed.
In other business the board approved the transfer of $610,000 from the working cash abatement to the education fund and approved a resolution to adopt the prevailing wage.
Dr. Oakley said there has been some changes to the parents/student handbook. He said each school will determine its own homework policy. Also, a new rule states that holes in a pair of pants can not be any higher than the area covered by shorts.
At the beginning of the meeting Michael Mendola of Wenona asked the board if the school's testing scores have improved. Also, he heard a rumor that a significant number of Fieldcrest high schools failed to graduate this year. Mr. Mendola was not given a response but at the end of the meeting, Fieldcrest High School Principal, William Lapp, said 4 seniors out of a class of 70 failed to graduate because they did not have enough credits. He said those students are taking the required courses at IVHS this summer and when completed will receive their diploma.
At the end of the meeting, the various school principals gave a report on the Annual Curriculum and Instruction Report. Jason Chaplin, Principal at Fieldcrest Primary in Minonk said he was encouraged by the MATH test scores this year. He said 51% exceeded the standard but those in the 49% all showed improvement over last year. He said the important point is that everyone showed improvement. Mr. Lapp said the junior class MATH scores went from the second from the bottom to the second from the top in the district.
Dr. Oakley said surprises are coming out of the woodwork in the renovations being done at the primary and intermediate schools in Minonk and Toluca. He said workers are finding electrical boxes hidden behind walls that were being uncovered and also electrical wires were being stapled to the studs.